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Mar 4, 2014

A further look at the Burrell Boom shooting

The shooting of a Belize City resident in Burrell Boom is drawing criticism in the village. Giovanni Berry was shot by a group of villagers who were reportedly accompanied by Burrell Boom police. The incident was sparked by the burglary of the house of Chad Gillett in which a licensed nine millimeter pistol was stolen earlier on Saturday morning. Gillett reportedly pulled out his licensed shotgun and fired a shot at the fleeing burglar on bicycle. The burglar was hit and fled on foot leaving the bicycle behind. It is reported that Gillett along with the officer in command at the Burrell Boom Police Station and other villagers combed the area for the thief. All traces as we understand led them a newly built house where Berry was sleeping.  There is where the shooting took place and Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Forty-three year old Giovanni Berry was released from the K.H.M.H. on Monday afternoon after receiving treatment for a gunshot to the left side of the face. On Saturday morning, Berry was shot by someone among a group of villagers in Burrell Boom. The mob reportedly was in the company of police officers on the hunt for two robbers who were terrorizing the residents that same night.

 

Giovanni Berry, Shooting Victim

Giovanni Berry

“The feeling is improving ever so slowly; the facial swelling is improving as you can see. There is some pain in the wound channel itself, but it is a slow process to recovery so I expect maybe a month of confinement with this particular type of injury.  These people organized themselves in a vigilante type formation and executed the action in such a manner to be destructive and yes excessive forces is evident around the building; it’s been torn up. So these people definitely should have been guided as to their approach in such incidents. The initial shot that came through the window; that caught me in the jaw and the response shot back by me; those were the first two to me that exist in my subconscious right now because the rest was surreal. I was like in a state of suspended animation; it was like I wasn’t even there. I know that it was all happening around me, but my primary focus was to dial nine-one-one and to get some assistance.”

 

Berry says that not once did the police identify itself among the group, but the police dispute that saying they did.  We do know, however, that a barrage of bullets from nine millimeter pistols and a shotgun were fired at the newly built house. But does it constitute as excessive use of force?

 

Christopher Noble

ASP Christopher Noble, Rural Executive Officer, Police Department

“For the police to mention what use of force would be, use of force in any legal standpoint cannot be determined whilst in use. So to tell you that and from what you are saying the amount of shots, the damages, the person injured, etc; that is a part of our investigation and we will go into it in detail and look at how we dissect it and how we put it forward.”

 

Duane Moody

“Is it believed that anyone is going to be charged for that shooting in any instance—whether it is the man that shot at the villagers that were outside or whether whoever fired that shot that injured Mister Berry?”

 

ASP Christopher Berry

“We do not at this stage want to preempt an investigation. Like I said yesterday, our investigation did not reveal that this gentleman was a part of any problem. We are covering ourselves to say that we will get our information first before we give any information with regards to that shooting. To say somebody will be charge will be too premature at this stage. That matter will be forwarded for advice and after the advice is given, we work on what advice is given to us.”

 

Berry is now seeking the advice of an attorney and wants charges to be brought against the person who shot him.

 

Giovanni Berry

“Absolutely, we are going to seek some legal recourse with this matter definitely. This was way in excess of what should have been done. The abuse of power and all of that is involved in this. So we are definitely going to seek legal recourse with this one for sure.”

 

Along with Berry’s licensed point thirty-eight weapon, News Five understands that six weapons from the men who accompanied the police officers were confiscated. Duane Moody for News Five.

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