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Jun 12, 2017

Richard Garcia Shot Dead by Police in Chunox; Residents Demand Justice

Richard Garcia

An internal and a criminal investigation is underway following the shooting death of Richard Garcia, a handyman in Chunox, Corozal, by police who went to the Garcia’s house to carry out an eviction request by the landlord.  The officers claim that on Friday afternoon Garcia charged at them with a machete and fearing for their lives, they opened fire at the man, killing him on the spot. Incensed residents threw missiles at the officers and Scenes of Crime personnel and emotions ran high when Garcia’s body was left overnight at the scene, exposed to the elements and in sight of passersby. A News five team headed out to the village on Saturday to find a huge contingent of officers – including members of the GSU, MIT, Riot Squad and others with high powered weapons – keeping residents at bay. Duane Moody reports.

 

Marleny Teck, Cousin of Deceased

“They didn’t had to kill him. There was no purpose for the cops to kill him. He didn’t deserve to be killed like that. He was a humble worker helping the people from the village and I think we the Chunoxenos want justice for him.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Justice for Richard Garcia – that’s what residents of the northern village of Chunox are clamoring for following the fatal shooting of one of their own at the hands of the police. The forty-four-year-old was killed in his backyard on Friday evening, just after five o’clock, after a barrage of bullets were fired in his direction by officers carrying out an eviction notice by Garcia’s landlord.

 

Marleny Teck

Marleny Teck

“The cops came in to take him out of the house and I heard that they surprised him. He didn’t expect the cops to come into his yard.”

 

But the responding officers say that Garcia charged at them with a machete and so they opened fire on him.

 

ACP Noel Leal, Commander of Operations, Police Department

“We are here as a team as a result of an incident that occurred here in the village where there was a confrontation between the police and one Mister Richard Garcia, which results in Mister Garcia being fatally wounded. This person is very aggressive and when the police approached the house and tried to talk to him, he ran out with a machete the police I understand had to defend themselves because if they did not, probably the police officers would have been hurt.”

 

As the echoes of the gun blasts reverberated through the village, residents ran to the scene to find the mortally wounded handyman on the ground. Irate villagers began hurling missiles at the cops—mangoes, rocks, anything they could get their hands on—breaking the glass of the police vehicle and injuring police personnel, including members of the Corozal Scenes of Crime Unit.

 

ACP Noel Leal

“Police were unable to process the scene due to the aggressiveness of the villagers and for purposes of safety, both for officers and so as not to get into another incident with the people, we decided to retreat and come back tomorrow morning.”

 

Garcia’s body was left overnight on the ground; unattended, exposed to the elements and passersby until about eleven-twenty-five the following morning, when it was removed and taken to the morgue at the Corozal Community Hospital.

On their return to the scene on Saturday, a team of officers including GSU, MIT, Special Patrol, Riot Squad and senior officers from the Police Department converged on the village, most with high powered rifles in hand. Hundreds of villagers stood watch from a distance as the officers guarded the scene. Assistant Commissioner of Police Noel Leal says a criminal and an internal investigation into the shooting death of Garcia has begun.

 

Noel Leal

ACP Noel Leal

“I have contacted the office of the Ombudsman and I believe they will be here sometime—maybe not this weekend—but sometime early this week. We’ve also made efforts to contact the Human Rights Commission; I haven’t gotten a response, but we believe that they will also join us in doing an open and transparent internal investigation as in any police related incident like this.”

 

A postmortem examination has also revealed that Garcia was shot multiple times, to the chin, neck and right collar bone. Aside from what residents say was inhumane treatment by the officers, was the use of force warranted; especially so since it was four officers having to apprehend one man?

 

Marleny Teck

“I think the officers didn’t have to shoot him on the head. They could have shot him on his foot, on his hand but not on his head. And not even try to shoot him; I think the body has about seven shots.”

 

ACP Noel Leal

“I wouldn’t want to talk too in depth; it will be a matter for the court to decide. You know there’s always two sides to a story. But what I have assure the villagers is that as early as Monday, if it is possible, like how the post mortem will be done today, if we can get the file to the D.P.P. for her advice and directive.”

 

According to residents, Garcia posed no harm; in fact, he was the handyman in the village. He would get disorderly at times, but they learned to accept him. ACP Leal says others feared him.

 

Marleny Teck

“He used to go around the village cutting firewood for the people, cleaning the vehicles for the people, cleaning yards for the people; that’s how he made his money or even a plate of food. When he was drinking, he has his ways…but people don’t bother him, don’t take care of him, they ignoring him and he goes away and he goes to sleep. That’s Richard; we di Chunoxenos didn’t have no problem with him.”

 

ACP Noel Leal

“The people want to get back their house and he has been chasing even the owner of the place with a machete….so there were several complaints of him aggressing people with a machete. Even the village chairman and other members of the society can attest to that.”

 

Bonifacia Oy lives across from Garcia; she saw the police making several stops at the residence before hearing gunshots. She came out to see the man dead on the ground.

 

Bonifacia Oy

Bonifacia Oy, Witness

“I see the police pickup stop and then nobody was there and the vehicle gone. And when he returned there was nobody. I don’t know what time they come back and when I heard the shooting, I came out and I told my husband they killed Charlie. And when I see Charlie was lying down and one police beside him. But I thought the police as dead, but no he stand up.”

 

According to Reynaldo Moh, the shooting was unexpected and excessive. His house and shop are next door to Garcia’s residence. He says a barrage of bullet was discharged; the evidence is proven by his bullet-riddled walls and vehicle. Luckily, only he and his daughter were at home and no patrons were at the shop.

 

Reynaldo Moh, Owner, E & R Grocery Store, Chunox

“Oh several shots. I can’t recall how many but it was so many shots. I could not believe even when the man is still down, gunfire is still going on.”

 

Duane Moody

“You saw that the gun firing was still going on even though the man was down?”

 

Reynaldo Moh

Reynaldo Moh

“Right, they were still firing shots. For whatever reason, I don’t know. I was really mad about it because excessive force like this didn’t need to happen for just one little small gentleman weh they could have…two persons could have just grabbed the man. This is normal business hours; things could have been worst. But thank God no one got hurt around my business place.”

 

Residents, adults and children alike, have been left traumatized by the incident.

 

Bonifacia Oy

“I was frighten; I really. I can’t even see there because I know the man.”

 

Reynaldo Moh

“It is only myself and my little daughter and she was really, really frighten; and myself too because normally we don’t get things like this happening. Gunshots really like this in the village. It is a nice village, it is a peaceful village so we are not use to these kinds of action by the police.”

 

Marleny Teck

“All the people are very shocked! Even the kids are shocked because nothing…I’m forty-one years old and I grew up here and I haven’t heard anything happen like that until yesterday. And that’s why the people from Chunox are very angry and we are asking for justice.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “Richard Garcia Shot Dead by Police in Chunox; Residents Demand Justice”

  1. Marie says:

    Very sad situation, wish you all luck.

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