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Jul 1, 2019

Chaos at Caye Caulker! A Brawl Breaks Out on Boat between Women and Police Officer

All hell broke loose onboard a water taxi on Sunday afternoon loaded with passengers returning to the city from the popular Lobster Fest held in Caye Caulker.  The brouhaha soon became violent and a young police officer was removed from the water taxi and subdued by another officer as he fell unconscious.  To make a bad situation even worse, homophobic insults were hurled at PC Ralph Gillett. Today, the police said it is investigating whether excessive force was used to restrain Gillett. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Ralph Gillett

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

A cell phone video showing a police officer in a rear naked choke hold and a boat filled with passengers, laughing and hurling homophobic comments at PC Ralph Gillett, went viral over the weekend. So did this one,  a video taken prior to the arrest of PC Ralph. It shows a violent brawl inside a San Pedro Belize Express water taxi a few minutes before the vessel departed Caye Caulker Village.

The physical confrontation was visibly between Gillett and a couple of women and it was over available seating on the boat. But it quickly escalated to a physical fight on board. The crowd was happy to see PC Gillett subdued, throwing homophobic remarks.

 

Caleb Orozco

Caleb Orozco, Executive Director, UNIBAM

“At the heart of the issue is that a homophobic lady did not want to sit next to an effeminate gay man and decided to start a quarrel despite the fact that his friends had moved down to provide the lady with space. What I know from the witness account, there is a lady across the boat who basically yelled shut up you [bleed]. No gay men will ever tolerate disrespect like that so he replied come shut me up blah blah blah. That’s when the conflict ensued.”

 

The women reportedly threw a drink at Gillett but it caught his friend who was next to him. The physical fight then ensued. Neither of the parties was backing down and police intervened. PC Gillett was removed from the vessel. He was placed on a chokehold and visibly hit by a police officer while in an unconsciousness state.

 

Caleb Orozco

“The thing that disgust me about this case, the thing the riles me up is that the officer chokehold, in this case rendered a fellow officer unconscious , separately another officer slapped he in his head while he was unconscious. How can you show solidarity for a mob who was calling for the lynching of a person based on sexual orientation? The idea that an LGBT person and effeminate gay men should have no feelings, should tolerate disrespect from somebody who by the way was drinking.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Was PC Gillett drinking? They were coming from an event over the weekend.”

 

Caleb Orozco

“In that regard, from the information I gathered there was no drinking by the people, or the PC himself. But there was a drink thrown at PC Gillett that hit his friend who was next to him and it burn her eyes.”

 

Edward Broaster, Deputy Commissioner (Operations)

“Maybe you saw a different video from what I saw. I saw blows being hurled back and forth both by the officer in question and members of the public. As it pertains to the chokehold, we have not sanctioned that particular defense technique. Nevertheless the officer that hit him after will be dealt with disciplinary wise.”

 

The women who are seen in the video hitting PC Gillett were allowed to leave. From what we have heard, the Belize City women have yet to be questioned by investigators.

 

Caleb Orozco

“I have a question around that because if you have not demonstrated any common sense about bringing all parties together to get an understanding of what has happened why shouldn’t I call you out on your lack of common sense and ineptitude in your investigation process. Separately why is you as the ASP or in this case as the person in charge of Caye Caulker, why should you take is so personal that you don’t see it fit to bring in the witnesses who were there to explain what happened and threatened them to jail them for trying to explain what was happening. That to me shows that this man is so inept at his job he needs to be removed or relieved from his job at minimum.”

 

Edward Broaster

Edward Broaster

“You have to remember that individuals don’t have their phones out videoing the public until something triggers them to video. We at this time are not aware what transpired prior to and I am sure that the least charges that can be levied on the individuals   would be disorderly conduct if not other serious charges. When Caye Caulker police conclude their investigators as well as the Professional Standards Branch we will be determining what charges if any will be levied at the individual at or individuals in this matter.”

 

Gillett, we understand, was released without charges. His friend and colleague, who was present during the fight, WPC Arbunie Clare, was detained and from what we understand, charge sheets have been prepared for disorderly conduct.

 

Caleb Orozco

“The police department and in this case the officer at Caye Caulker cannot act as court, jury and executioner in matters of investigations. They must demonstrate a level of common sense. In this case Asp Crispin Castillo demonstrated no common sense in managing an issue which was manageable.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“As a police officer don’t you think that PC Gillett should have practice restraint n dealing with some people?”

 

Caleb Orozco

“Not even these police officers know how to practice restrain when they are being challenged for a lack of common sense in the delivery of their duty.”

 

Edward Broaster

“Any incidents involving police officers that are not of a professional nature we condemn so I’ll leave it at that. We condemn all unprofessional conduct by our police officers whether in uniform, on duty or off duty.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“They say that two wrongs don’t make a right. The actions of PC Gillett were unbecoming of an officer one would say, especially if he was sober.”

 

Caleb Orozco
“One can argue that the action was unbecoming…”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“He was kicking. He was stomping these ladies…”

 

Caleb Orozco

“At the heart of the matter, there is a fundamental point here the police should show common sense and be able to address and deflate a conflict that is occurring. They should be able to decipher the parties involve and bring some level of mediation and calm to a difficult situation.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“As one would say Mr. Gillett should have used at that situation.”

 

Caleb Orozco

“What is clear here is that victim blaming or victim shaming has no place in the service of justice.”

 

Hipolito Novelo, 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. Lois Baker says:

    I don’t miss the homophobia in Belize. It was bad when I lived there 10 yrs. ago, for 10 yrs. And it’s mostly because of the Catholic Church’s stranglehold on the education system in Belize. Too bad, because LOTS of very nice people are gay!

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