After video footage of excessive force by police Quick Response Team on civilians hit social media and news outlets, island residents and Belizeans have expressed their outrage on the situation. The Belize Police Department has launched an internal investigation and both PC No. 1919 Samir Medina and PC No.2287 Tyrell Rowley have been placed on seven days suspension pending the findings of a criminal and internal police investigation.
The video shows an officer kicking a young man on the face and another civilian kicking him. The young man appears to be in an unconscious state and other individuals were also arrest for trying to render assistance. The young man kicked to the face was Jamir Leal who was arrested and detained along with his two brothers.
The Leal brothers were released on Wednesday, January 2, 2018 and were treated at the San Pedro Polyclinic. Jamir Leal’s injuries were classified as wounding and is now at home recovering along with his brothers. Leal admitted to being under the influence of alcohol and that when he saw his ex-girlfriend talking to a friend he flew into a rage and that’s when the entire problem began. Leal recalls pushing people off and says he never hit the owner of the bar in the face; he says police then arrived and started roughing him and then lost consciousness.
Aldo Marin owner of Playa Bar and Grill was seen on the video kicking an unconscious Jamir Leal. To his defense his son posted on their Facebook page that his father stopped Leal from hitting his ex-girlfriend and tried to take him out of the establishment. That is when Leal hit his father in the face, according to their accounts of the incident. Jamir Leal admits having been out of control but believes that the police officers and bar owner did not need to use excessive force on him and plans on pressing charges on the bar owner and both police officers.
In light of all of this The Human Rights Commission of Belize, the People’s United Party, Orange Walk Town Mayor Kevin Bernard all join island residents and Belizean activists in condemning the police’s behavior. The Belize People’s Front now joins and issued a release on Police Brutality.
“From Every corner of our Nation, police brutality continues unabated all across our Country because of brazen impunity – because in this country we have long condoned the abuse of power and violence against our citizens by those employed by the people to respect and uphold our human rights and dignity. There must be change, or else it is guaranteed that there will be more victims of unnecessary and excessive use of force by police. There must be justice for our People or the killings will not stop, and the Gangs will soon be much more powerful than our law enforcement, and they will retaliate.
When the very people who are supposed to protect our citizens are allowed to become the enemy, our democracy is in crises and our freedoms are under attack. This makes for a very dangerous society.
While there are conflicting reports of what happened between unarmed civilians and the police officers in San Pedro. Excessive force and abuse of power was evident. The Officer in question also pulled his Government issued weapon, (entrusted to him for the protection of our people) against peaceful, unarmed civilians. These actions are unacceptable. We at the Belize People’s Front Demand that these officers be held accountable and the brutalized civilian be recompensed with proper medical attention as well as compensated for all violations of his human rights.” – The Belize People’s Front – Leader & Executive Members.