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Aug 16, 2022

6 Officers on Suspension Following Death of Derrick Uh

Derrick Uh

The result of a post-mortem examination is still outstanding, following the death of Derrick Uh. The twenty-year-old Cristo Rey resident was detained by officers at the San Joaquin Fiesta in Corozal for allegedly touching a woman inappropriately. He was placed inside a police prison van and was left unattended for over twelve hours before he was discovered dead. Tonight, we can confirm that six police officers who were on-duty that night have been placed on suspension as the investigation continues on what can only be described as a gross breach of protocol. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

A copy of a police report has been circulating online that chronicles what happened over the weekend in San Joaquin when twenty-year-old Derrick Uh was detained by police. A diarist on duty at the event logged his detention and that of another individual, Alonzo Cowo, a resident of San Joaquin Village. A debriefing was held by Inspector Isaias Sanchez who informed the officers that Cowo was to be released while Uh was to be taken to the Corozal Police Station to be processed for an investigation relating to an alleged assault of a female. The tragedy has rocked the department.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“It is truly an unthinkable travesty, something that none of us could ever fathom could possibly take place and a series of missteps and mishaps that have resulted in this absolutely heinous tragedy. We will ensure that this is a thorough, comprehensive and fully transparent investigation into this what I have to categorize as a wrongful death instance. Up to this time, there is nothing to suggest that there was any intentionally killing of Derrick Uh. I want to make that clear as of this point. There is a post-mortem that will be conducted that will give a lot of information towards this investigation and so we are looking forward to the outcome of that post-mortem.”


Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa says that six officers are on suspension pending investigation into the negligent death of the youth at the hands of the police.


Kareem Musa

“Twelve statements have been recorded and from the initial statements that the police have gathered so far, the police have actually determined that six officers – not necessarily all of them we can categorically state are guilty of any offense – but they are six officers that are being questioned at the moment and certainly you can expect not just charges in terms of a criminal tribunal at the police level, but also criminal charges in our court system.”


It is believed that there was a break down in detention protocol that led to the death of the young man. Based on the report, a custody record was created at the command center established at the fiesta, the minimum conditions of detention, as per section thirteen of the Commissioner’s Guidelines, were breached. The police van, which was used as a holding cell, was not adequately ventilated; there was no access to toilets and washing facilities and neither of the officers visited the detainee every hour. Minister Musa says that from the very outset, there were missteps on the part of the police.


Derrick Uh

Kareem Musa

“If you look at the very first point which is that in my opinion and I am not aware of any policy that individuals are supposed to be detained in a van. I think that is the starting point. This individual, Mister Derrick Uh, ought not to have been detained, even though temporarily, inside the van. What should have happened in my opinion is that a mobile should have been called, even though it is a distance away from the Corozal Police Station, a mobile should have been called to come and pick up Derrick Uh and he should have been taken to the police station if it is that there were allegations made against him .And so from the every outset that, in my opinion, was a huge misstep on the part of the police at the San Joaquin Fiesta show grounds. Secondly, what the investigation is showing so far is that there was not a proper briefing and there was not a proper handing over, because the officers who took the van to the police station, were not the original officers who had detained Derrick Uh. And so in the process of handing over the detainee, there should have been a proper briefing and communication by the officers who had originally detained Derrick Uh and that should have been communicated to the drivers who then took the van to the police station with Mister Derrick Uh inside the van.”


Tanya Santos-Neal

Tanya Santos-Neal, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development

“All of Belize is feeling a lot of pain and a lot of anger about this situation and questioning how it is that such a gross error could have been made. What should have been the protocols applied to ensure that this young man move from his detention in the van, which in itself is not appropriate and placed in the police station whenever the time came.. I just question all of that. What was in place? Was protocol followed? Is there even a protocol because it is amounting to gross negligence that really caused death of this young man – an untimely death, a gruesome death.”


Minister Musa says that the officers responsible are at risk of being dismissed from the department.


Kareem Musa

“I am not casting a net on all six officers, but I am just mentioning to you that six officers who have been named have been placed on suspension. But yes, it may certain result in some of them or all of them being dismissed and charged.”


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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