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Jan 3, 2019

San Pedro Family Speaks Out on the Police Beat Down of Jamir Leal

Three siblings were subdued by two police officers on New Year’s night on San Pedro. They were roughed up and one was badly beaten. The chilling images captured on phone video have been met with swift condemnation. The two officers have since been placed on suspension. Tonight, we speak to Jamir Leal, the victim of the police brutality. Leal outlines what he remembers transpired before the beat down until he was knocked out cold and regained consciousness inside a jail cell on the island. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Tyrell Rowley & Samir Medina

Today, Police Constables Samir Medina and Tyrell Rowley spent the first day of a one-week suspension imposed on them by Acting Commissioner Chester Williams following what can only be described as brute force upon a San Pedro resident. The cruelty by the officers on one of three Leal siblings has triggered public outcry because their actions were unbecoming of a lawman.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Acting ComPol [File: January 2nd, 2019]

“I can tell you that we have since placed those two officers on administrative leave pending a criminal and internal investigation, which is being conducted by the Professional Standards Branch. The conduct depicted by the video is not what we expect of our officers and so the Belize Police Department condemns the action of those two officers in the strongest term.”

 

Duane Moody

Duane Moody

“Two days ago, on New Year’s Day sometime before nine p.m., patrons of Playa Bar and Grill captured the brutality at the hands of police officers on the civilians they swore to protect. Jamir Leal was already unconscious having been beaten and kicked to the face by P.C. Tyrell Rowley. Even as he remained unconscious, Jamir is flipped onto his face before Rowley plants his right foot to his head, as if a hunter had just captured its prey.”

 

Jamir Leal, Victim, Police Brutality

“I just mi can’t believe it that that happen to me. Why he wah do that to me when I mi unconscious. Why kick me up like that? Imagine I mi dead. It just broke me like [bleep] to see me like that. I neva mi expect that mi wah happen to me like that. It just really hurt yo know; I dah noh wah dog. Yo noh have to do me that. Especially my ma; I know she get hurt di see that. Nobody woulda want see dehn son di get kick up like that. I neva want do that. I know I do wrong, dehn coulda well arrest me but frigs, dehn just hurt mi up.”

 

As can be seen in the video, three men were placed face-down on the ground: twenty-year-old Jamir, twenty-one-year-old Justin and twenty-three-year-old Mario Leal. The siblings were out celebrating the New Year at the popular open bar. It’s a regular hang out spot for them; in fact, the owner’s son is a good friend of the family. They recount what led to the cruelty by the officer.

 

Jamir Leal

Jamir Leal

“I admit I did wrong when I did that. I gone choke the gial, right. I know I never mi supposed to do that and then people came in and try and stop me. Even the owner; he say that I knock him but I don’t recall knocking him. I was just pushing people away. I noh remember di knock nobody. And then they call police and police come out of nowhere and I neem member weh happen after that. I just gone knock out.”

 

Justin Leal, Brother of Victim

“Me and my next bredda gone fi gone hold he down and other people start get in and I don’t know what he tell the owner of the bar that he noh want go and then the owner just punch my lee bredda fi no reason and then they start hold he down cause he jump across me and my girlfriend fi punch he.”

 

Justin Leal

Duane Moody

“So when did police show up?”

 

Justin Leal

“Well we mi deh almost di go down from the bar. I noh know weh ketch he, but he start punch, but I noh think he mi di try punch di police. He just mi di try get everybody away from him. I see dehn kick he and Mister Marin just jump and kick me lee breda fi no reason; that dah when I try hold he fi see if he okay. And then the next police just come and hold up he like he dah wa toy. And I just tell him to relax cause I just di watch my lee breda and he tell me make I shut up or he wah kick me up. My gial friend tell me make I stay down better cause she noh want dehn hurt me.”

 

Jamir Leal

“I neva know nothing weh happen. I wake up and after I come home and everything, I took a statement and everything and I see the video. I mi just can’t believe it; that man coulda mi kill me.”

 

It’s a rough time for the Leal family, specifically Jamir, who is completely remorseful and he believes that the incident has brought embarrassment to his family. The siblings are law-abiding citizens and are not caught up in the criminal world. After seeing the video and reflecting on what happened, Jamir accepts that he was wrong when he assaulted his ex-girlfriend inside the bar and that he was inebriated, but didn’t assault the officer.

 

Jamir Leal

“I wake up dah jail all bleed up and that’s all I remember. I noh remember when dehn beat me, when dehn kick me or nothing. I just mi unconscious.”

 

Duane Moody

“Is this the first time that something like this has happened to you guys?”

 

Justin Leal

“Yes. First time yes.”

 

Jamir Leal

“Yes. First time I ever gone dah jail. Like I know like I do wrong, deh mi have the right fi arrest me, handcuff me and just ker me dah back, but dehn neva had to do that.”

 

Isolina Leal

Originally from Progresso Village, Isolina Leal says that they have been living in San Pedro for over thirty years; her children were schooled on the island. Having just seen the video today, she says that she will seek legal recourse for the abuse of her son.

 

Isolina Leal, Mother of Victim

“There is no way we can trust them. They didn’t have to react that way. They could have cuffed him and take him to the station; not to be like that. My son is not an animal to be treated like that.”

 

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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