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Feb 9, 1998

Police officer kills man in Salvapan bar; witnesses charge police

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There’s disaster aplenty tonight, and while there are few scenes more dramatic than a downtown fire, it was a single shot from a policeman’s revolver in the Belmopan suburb of Salvapan that dominates the weekend’s tragic news. Like last week’s senseless gunplay by a cop doing special duty, Saturday night’s shooting took place at a bar. But in this case the officer did not even give his victim odds as good as those in Russian roulette. Patrick Jones has just returned from the scene and files the following report.

It’s a gunshot, the impact of which continues to echo around this pre-dominantly Spanish speaking community. Around midnight Saturday, a fight is reported to have broken out on the dance floor of Galdamez’s Club in Salvapan. Participants were escorted outside by Corporal Chester Williams and P.C. Javier Alvarez who were on special duty.

Angel Morales, Eye Witness

“The crowd was all jumpy because the police had a gun in his hand, telling everybody move off, nobody dead yet, in Creole right.”

Patrick Jones

“The official version of Saturday night’s shooting is that constable Alvarez was trying to settle a second fight which broke out outside the night club. But eye witnesses tell a completely different story.”

Although he’s not known as a big socializer, twenty seven year old electrician Enrique Alvarenga went partying at Galdamez’s club on Saturday night; unfortunately he did not make it home alive.

Eva Gomez, Eye Witness

“This officer he came around and insult this guy and pushing him around, and at the same time he pushed him, he took his weapon and shoot him in his head and after he shoot him, he pushed him down on the ground and then he was moving around.”

Angel Morales

“I think the police loose his watch and he was really pissed of, and he had his gun in his hand, insulting people and then he grabbed a guy out here and choked him from his neck and the other man, the other police grabbed him and get his radio and hit him on his head until, he burst his bead. I was coming out, I saw this police from a distance approximately from where we are, put his gun on the guy’s head and took himself a shot.”

Q: So you saw the police, actually take out his gun, put it to the man’s head and fired.

“He had his gun in his hand. He didn’t take it out, he had it in his hand when he lift his hand and shot to the guy, because the guy was not giving no kind of problem here.”

Eye witnesses say that as Alvarenga slumped to the ground, apparently dead, the Senior officer argued with Alvarez about what to do next, and finally they both took off running, leaving the startled crowd behind. The police in a press release have said that Alvarenga was part of a crowd that had gathered around the officer during the second fight and that he had a bottle in his hands.

Eva Gomez

“It’s a lie. No. The guy was not drinking beer. and he was in the corner by himself disturbing no one … the police shoot him and then he was escaping and then at the same time he want to come back and see if the guy was completely dead and then he ran away and the nobody find out where he went after that.”

Patrick Jones

“As Alvarenga’s family prepare to lay him to rest, an entire community is left wondering, did it have to happen in the first place. From the village of San Martin near Belmopan, Patrick Jones for News Five.”

P.C. Alvarez was today arrested and charged with manslaughter. In case the policeman’s name rings a familiar bell, it is because he is the same Javier Alvarez who was captured on film and videotape last September beating a prisoner senseless after he broke loose from an escort on the way to Magistrate’s Court. The Police High Command now have two questions to answer: Why was Alvarez reinstated following his interdiction from duty…and why was the police report on Saturday’s killing so at odds with the testimony of so many witnesses.

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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