The Commissioner of Police has ordered an internal and criminal investigation into an incident where an allegedly drunken man was shot while trying to take away a gun from a police officer. The incident occurred just after five o’clock on Saturday evening on the Southern Highway. According to police, traffic wardens attached to Punta Gorda Town were conducting a checkpoint near the Monkey River junction when a Dodge Ram pickup truck, driven at the time by Wilmer Ruiz, approached. The wardens requested Ruiz’s driver’s license. After smelling a high scent of alcohol coming from Ruiz, the wardens asked him to pull to the side to take a breathalyzer test. According to Police Spokesman, ASP Fitzroy Yearwood, that’s when the wardens requested police assistance, which led to a struggle between them and Ruiz’s passengers.
ASP. Fitzroy Yearwood, Public Relations, Belize Police Department: “The officers reported that Ruiz followed them to the traffic department vehicle but the other two passengers also followed. The police are saying that they asked these two gentlemen to return to their vehicle who were identified as Alex Ruiz and Edbin Ruiz. Well the officers said that Alex was advancing towards him, towards them and he fired a warning shot in the air and Alex kept in his advancing motion. The officers claim that a struggle ensued between Ruiz and, um, Alex Ruiz because, and the gun, during that struggle, the gun went off several times injuring Alex Ruiz.”
According to ASP Yearwood, the license for Ruiz’s truck was expired. He says that the incident could have been avoided if Ruiz had simply complied with the authorities instead of resisting.
ASP. Fitzroy Yearwood, Public Relations, Belize Police Department: “If you notice the incident with that police related shooting is from the Traffic Department doing their checkpoint also. We are just asking the general public to be more cooperating with the Traffic Department personnel also. They have a job to do, just like the police, and give them the same level of respect that you would give a police officer when requested of you to present certain documents. From what I understand, that vehicle was not, it didn’t even have a valid licence sticker so all these factors could have contributed to the driver’s resistance to being arrested for the offences committed.”
Alex Ruiz was transported to the Southern Regional Hospital, where he was treated and released. Charges will be levied on the men depending on the outcome of the department’s investigation.