Chunox Man Dead: Police Says It Was Self Defense

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Updated: June 12, 2017

At least one police officer attached to the Corozal Police Formation is under investigation following the shooting death of 44-year-old, Richard Allen Garcia in Chunox Village which happened on Friday evening. Today, Senior Superintendent Dennis Arnold, Officer commanding the Corozal Police spoke with the media. He explained the back story to the incident. A woman, resident of Chunox Village, had granted Garcia permission to stay on her property because he had nowhere to live. A few years after, when the woman returned to the village to take over her property, Garcia reportedly chased her away. The most recent confrontation with Garcia and the woman was in March police say.

DENNIS ARNOLD

“Mr. Garcia pulled a machete at her and asked her to leave the premises, that is when she went to the police to ask for assistance. Progresso police went there, Ms. Garcia was not home when the police got there and so he left. Between that time and now there were three or four other incidents where people would go to the land and Mr. Garcia would threaten them. He then said threats to the police and told them that if he came closer he would chop them. The owner came to the Corozal police station so I had sent a couple officers on Friday and I told them the intent of Mr. Garcia and I told them to go ready.”

Arnold said that when officers arrived at the village, Garcia was not at home, so the team attempted to look for him in the village. Police understand he was at a neighbour’s house from where he saw the police. When officers returned to the house, Garcia had returned to the house and that is where things got out of hand.

DENNIS ARNOLD

“At that time Mr. Garcia had brought the machete from over the neighbor’s house and was inside the house waiting for the police. When the police went to his door apparently he told them that he didn’t want to hear it and he started chopping in the direction of the police. The police stepped backwards and fell to the ground and Mr. Garcia was over him and chopping the police officer was also firing kicks. The other officer that was there saw that and fired several warning shots but Mr. Garcia did not flinch. Mr. Garcia’s intent was to chop the officer in the head because if he wanted to chop him on the foot he could have done that but apparently he went over the chop the officer on the head and that was when the officer with the firearm fired those shots and when Mr. Garcia didn’t flinch he ended up shooting him.”

DALILA ICAL

“Was there any at any point in time that the officer could have shot him anywhere else other than in the face area or the neck area?”

DENNIS ARNOLD

“The incident happened so quickly because they went to just speak to Mr.Garcia about the various forms of aggravated assault he had committed on other people. They didn’t go there to take him off the land because we didn’t get a court order to take him off the land. So the entire incident happened so quickly that I believe that if I was in that position the outcome would have been the same.”

According to residents nearby, while they are unsure of what transpired in the yard, they heard a barrage of shots fired with three of them hitting the grocery store and another two hitting the store owner’s truck. Sr. Superintendent Arnold confirmed that these were caused by bullets from the police weapon. Things got more heated following the shooting as villagers reportedly became hostile with the police officers.

DENNIS ARNOLD

“As soon as it became dark villagers attacked the police officers, stoned them with rocks and cement blocks and mangoes and anything they could have found that is what happened. There are about five officers that got injured. The officers could not finish processing the scene, they left that village because they were under attack. The scenes of crime officer got hurt and she left the scenes of crime kit there. The villagers tampered with the scene, I don’t know what they believe they were doing if they were helping Mr.Garcia but then we could not recover the evidence from the scene because they tampered with it. They even stole the Scenes of Crime kit. I don’t know what was happening, we had officers with all different kinds of training, that could have been worse and more people could have gotten injured but instead the officers backed off”.

DALILA ICAL

“What are the degree of injuries are there, you said about five of them got injured.”

DENNIS ARNOLD

“We have wounding and harm because they stoned the officers. They didn’t know what was happening and one of the villagers threw a rock that hit the chest of one of the officers.”

DALILA ICAL

“This is an entirely different set of officers?”

DENNIS ARNOLD

“Yes apparently they were going there to assist the officers.”

……..

Reference to the allegation that the officers who arrived in the village were intoxicated, Arnold says that those are assumptions, adding that villagers did not see anything. The Professional Standards Branch is conducting the investigation and when the file is fully compiled, it will be forwarded to the DPP for her directive. The officer who shot Garcia and others who were part of the team are still on active duty while the investigations continue.