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Mar 3, 2017

Handling of Former Recruit Captured on Video Was Not Part of Training

There are still more questions than answers in the manhandling of a B.D.F. recruit videoed on cell phone during a training program on January eighth.  The images of recruit Michael Rivas crying out as he is pushed into a trench has stirred controversy on whether or not the tactics used went too far.  B.D.F. commander David Jones tells us he cannot speak of the hazing because of an ongoing investigation that has been ordered. The young man, who made the cut to join the force in January, is also unable to provide an interview on what really went down in the training. Tonight News Five’s Duane Moody looks further into the incident.


Duane Moody, Reporting

There have been mixed reviews about a leaked video of a B.D.F. training exercise from the public as well as from the ranks of the B.D.F.  The cell phone footage captured a recruit, now B.D.F. soldier Michael Rivas, being manhandled – some say abused – by a group of soldiers. But was what captured in the amateur video in contravention to the rules and regulations of the training policy? Documents were made available today of witness statement provided for the investigation launched this past Monday.  The information contained is conflicting from the officers questioned. Now during a phone interview with Future Plans Officer Lieutenant Colonel Azariel Loria, he confirmed that the video captured an incident that was outside of a tear gas exercise.


On the Phone: Lt. Col. Azariel Loria, Future Plans Officer, B.D.F.

“He didn’t want to return to base or to the camp because he was afraid of being…that was not training; they were not on training. They went to search for him because he was hiding. So that version of hiding and search wasn’t part of training anymore.”


Duane Moody

“Sir so the way they pushed this guy into the trench, push his head down, that is protocol; that is not outside of the training?”


On the Phone: Lt. Col. Azariel Loria

“That is subject to investigation.”


Duane Moody

“That is what is subject to investigation.”


On the Phone: Lt. Col. Azariel Loria

“Right, the way how he was handled; in that sense, we are still trying to verify why the instructors did it…if there were ill-intentions, bad intentions, they will have to answer to it.”


Duane Moody

“Now sir there is an officer in charge that should be present. Was that officer present?”


On the Phone: Lt. Col. Azariel Loria

“There was an officer in charge, present during that session.”


In that telephone interview, Lieutenant Colonel Loria says that investigations revealed that while a senior ranking officer was in charge during the final tear gas exercise thirty to forty-five minutes early, when Rivas was caught by the officers, he was taken to another trench and not the one where the gas session took place.


On the Phone: Lt. Col. Azariel Loria

“This is the preliminary findings, the preliminary investigation. Obviously the investigation will continue. If there were infractions committed, we will look into it, but the instructors that were there will have to answer to it.”


Duane Moody

“But so far, [there are] no infractions from the video that has been seen?”


On the Phone: Lt. Col. Azariel Loria

“I cannot guarantee that there have not been any infractions. We have to look at the actions of the instructors and then we will determine what infractions, what charges for the instructors if any.”


Former B.D.F. Major Lloyd Jones says that due to human rights concerns, changes have been made to the training policy in present day.


Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones, Former B.D.F. Major

“It is important to understand that as part of the training, at various levels because different types of trainings call for different methodologies. The environment calls for both physical and mental stress and what I saw there was a little bit of physical stress in terms of the shoving and so on, but mostly mental stress.  What would have been accepted back then, might not be accepted in 2017 particularly as over the years, societal views of what constitute abuse has shifted.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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