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Jun 13, 2017

D.P.P. Not Consulted as Police Defend Actions in Chunox

Richard Garcia

The Corozal Police Department remains under pressure tonight. Four officers were assigned by Corozal Police in an operation to evict forty-four year old Richard Garcia last Friday in Chunox Village. The task was accomplished with prejudice – Garcia was shot dead after, the officers alleged, he menaced them with a machete. The Professional Standards Branch is conducting an internal investigation but when we asked Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl-Lynn Vidal whether her office had received the file and what decisions it had taken, she tersely replied, “Contrary to what has been said by the Police, this Office has not been consulted in this matter.” While villagers are convinced the police acted out of proportion, the senior officer in charge of the district police detachment is equally convinced otherwise. News Five has more from veteran officer Senior Superintendent Dennis Arnold’s statement to reporters in Corozal Town on Monday. Aaron Humes reports.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

The end came fairly quickly and ignominiously for Richard Allen Garcia in Chunox, Corozal on Friday evening. After previously threatening both police and his landlord with a machete and refusing to leave the home he had occupied for several years, a confrontation with officers of the law left his bullet-riddled body on the ground. But did it have to end this way?

 

Dennis Arnold

Sr. Supt. Dennis Arnold, O.C., Corozal Police

“She had made mention that several years ago she had given Mr. Garcia permission to stay on the said land. Now she is ready to improve the land and the building and Mr. Garcia refused to leave the premises. Instead, he pull machete and threaten her with her life. She went to the Progresso police, the police went out there. At that time Mr. Garcia was over at the neighbor and saw the police went there. When the police left he went home. So the neighbors, the following day, went back and told the Progresso police that the man was right at the neighbors’ house while we were there; the Progresso police apparently didn’t look into that report immediately. Between March and present, we have about three or four different reports indicating that Mr. Garcia threatened people with a machete once they enter that premises; he even sent messages to police that once the police go there, he will chop them.”

 

Recounting how they came face to face, the Corozal senior cop painted a picture that sounded straight out of a movie.

 

Sr. Supt. Dennis Arnold

“When the officers got to his house, apparently he was waiting. When the officer knocked at the door, he open and just came out with the machete swinging. Apparently he wanted to chop the officers. The officer backed up and when the officer fell to the ground, apparently Mr. Garcia wanted to chop the officer in the head, so the officer was on his back firing kick towards Mr. Garcia and it was then that the other officer fired couple warning shots. Mr. Garcia didn’t eased, didn’t stop – he intended to chop the officer and that was when the fatal shot catch him.”

 

In the aftermath of the fatal confrontation, questions arise to why police fired warning shots not in the air but in the general direction of nearby buildings and even a vehicle. Did police even need that kind of heavily armed presence against one man, even with his machete? Sr. Supt. Arnold clarified the officers’ thought process and said police were willing to compensate those who suffered damage to their property.

 

Sr. Supt. Dennis Arnold

“At that point the officers didn’t know what they were going to meet; it’s best if you go over-armed than under armed.”

 

Reporter

“And with regards to the warning shots, as far as we know, the procedure is to fire the warning shots up in the air; what would have been the purpose for the warning shots to have been fired in the general direction where it could have had the potential to hit somebody?”

 

Sr. Supt. Dennis Arnold

“The situation – it happened very quickly, quick, because the officers had not expected that this man would have come out [swinging.] It happened very quickly. Certainly, certainly. I believe it’s the individual officers who had spoken to the owner and told them that yes, they will assist.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

There are plans for a vigil in downtown Corozal next Saturday, June twenty-fourth.

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