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Jan 7, 2019

No Criminal Charges for San Pedro Cops Involved in Brutality

Tyrell Rowley & Samir Medina

Two police officers on the island of San Pedro were captured on video beating up one of three brothers. The disturbing images show the brutal use of force on Jamir Leal, who had already been subdued face down on the ground and unconscious. It prompted the Human Rights Commission and the Bar Association as well as others to condemn the behaviour of the lawmen. But there is now word that the officers, Police Constables Tyrell Rowley and Samir Medina won’t face criminal charges; in fact, their suspension has been lifted. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

No criminal charges for Police Constables Tyrell Rowley and Samir Medina despite extensive footage of them brutalizing a San Pedro youth; Acting Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says persons involved refused to cooperate with the Professional Standards Branch of the Police Department. Both officers, attached to the island police formation, were placed on suspension pending the outcome of a criminal and internal investigation.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Acting ComPol

“We have progressed with that investigation and the officers from Professional Standards Branch visited San Pedro on two different occasions. The first time they went and met with the two persons concerned—the two civilians—and the civilians expressed that they did not wish to proceed with any matter either criminal or internal against the two police officers. I subsequently saw the news and saw where one of the persons concerned gave an interview to the media, which I found to be very interesting, and based on that interview, I redirected the members of the Professional Standards Branch to go back to San Pedro with a view to re-interview the individuals hoping that they would have changed their minds based on what I saw was said in the interview. And again that was done and they still refused to cooperate with the investigators.”

 

As a result, the police will not proceed with any criminal charges against the officers. But according to Williams, based on the very disturbing footage that went viral on social media, he has instructed that disciplinary charges be levied against the officers.

 

Chester Williams

“I believe that notwithstanding the fact that the persons concerned refuse to cooperate, the video footage should be sufficient for us to proceed successfully internally as it clearly shows the conduct the officers were engaged in were such that is prejudicial to the good order and discipline of police officers. And so PC Tyrell Rowley and Samir Medina were placed on disciplinary charges for two counts each of act of prejudice to good order and discipline. One count is for their conduct in beating the individual and the other count is for the fact that they allowed a civilian to also beat on the individual while that individual was on the ground. As we have said before, the Belize Police Department strongly condemn the actions of those police officers and we have seen on social media where we the police are still being criticised over what transpired in San Pedro and the action that we have taken.”

 

In the wake of the beat down on New Year’s Day, the Human Rights Commission of Belize and the Belize Bar Association issued releases condemning the actions of the officers and requesting that the rogue cops be dealt with. Williams says that while the department would want these type of officers to pay for their wrongdoing, it needs cooperation from the parties involved because they are bound by the law.

 

Chester Williams

“We are a country of laws and while people may wish to see that we the police act swiftly in dismissing members of the department who they believe may have done wrong, our laws do provide a mechanism, a system of due process that officers and any public officers must go through before a dismissal. We cannot act in such a way that whatever we do is contrary to the laws that govern our actions because then that will open us to lawsuits. Whenever there are incidents of officers misconduct, it is very important for those persons who are aggrieved or those persons against who the misconduct is perpetrated on; that your cooperation is important in order for us to be able to effectively deal with the officers who may have wronged you. When you refuse to cooperate with us, then our hands are tied to a certain extent and there is limited to what we will be able to do.”

 

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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1 Response for “No Criminal Charges for San Pedro Cops Involved in Brutality”

  1. Belizean says:

    We need witness protection in Belize. People will always be scared to witness. Especially against someone who is SUPPOSE to protect and fails to do so. I wonder if Chester can provide protection for witnesses?

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