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Feb 27, 2018

Cameras Did Not Record Humphrey Mitchell Death in Police Vehicle

The death of forty-four-year-old Humphrey Mitchell on Saturday has prompted the Belize Police Department to revisit its standard operating procedures where arrests and transportation of persons in custody are concerned.  Mitchell, a Jamaican national who moved to Belize several years ago, was being escorted from Sarawee Village to Dangriga in the pan of a pickup when it is said that he suddenly leapt out of the back of the vehicle.  His fall proved fatal when he suffered massive head and body injuries upon landing.  While the tragic incident is being treated as a mishap, the agency is forced to reconsider its modus when dealing with captives who are placed in the rear of a patrol vehicle.  Likewise, it has also brought attention to the use of camera systems installed on newer model pickups in the department’s fleet of vehicles.


Humphrey Mitchell

ACP Chester Williams, Commander, Professional Standards Branch

“If you’re going to put a detainee in the back of a vehicle it is expected that you’ll have sufficient manpower at the back in the event that should occur.  In this case, the individual was not handcuffed and one officer was placed with him at the back.  I believe that that was insufficient.  They ought to have ensured that there were more than one officer and if they were not sufficient then he could have been brought in the front, use the child safety lock on the back door of the vehicle to have prevented him from escaping or from jumping out of the vehicle.”


Isani Cayetano

“Does this now change the procedure in terms of dealing with the arrest of individuals and their transportation to the respective holding cells or what have you?”


Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams

“Well most naturally, we really and truly must have to review our procedures administratively as it relates to how we transport prisoners.  They say hindsight is twenty/twenty and in this case we surely can see where we can make some adjustment in terms of how we deal with persons who are being transported to the police station. Each of these brand new vehicles is equipped with a camera system that records both forward and backwards.  In this case, the camera system for the vehicle was not connected, so that is another issue administratively that we need to address, to see why wasn’t connected and the officers concerned will be dealt as well because it is imperative on the driver of every vehicle or the supervisor to ensure that when they get onboard the vehicle they do proper checks to ensure that everything is working and what is not working must be reported.”

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