Belize Coast Guard Member Faces Criminal Charges for Assault on Police Officer
A member of the Belize Coast Guard, who is currently on interdiction, is facing criminal and internal charges after he was caught on camera assaulting a police officer. On Saturday night, 24-year-old Shakeem Richard was reportedly intoxicated when got into an altercation with police at a nightclub in Belize City. Richards refused to leave the premises and became aggressive with the police and slapped an officer. Today, he was taken to court and slapped with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of using threatening words. Richards pleaded not guilty and was granted bail in the sum of two thousand dollars, which he was unable to meet. Commandant of the BCG, Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, says the matter is being investigated and added that more than likely the Coast Guard officer will be dismissed.
RADM Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “Yeah so I was briefed today that a member of the Coast Guard was involved with some physical altercation with the police. I believe that he should be charged today. Once he is charged we will take administrative action as well. More than likely if he is charged he will be placed on interdiction. Once he goes on interdiction and if he is found guilty then he’s dismissed from the service.”
Reporter: So that’s a criminal and internal investigation running parallel ?
RADM Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “Yeah so the police will do the criminal aspect of it and the Coast Guard would mirror that with an internal administrative process.”
Richards was out on bail from the High Court for his alleged involvement in the robbery of a gas station in Belize City last July. His mother, Agnes Thompson, says the court is now moving to revoke his bail, which she finds to be unfair.
Agenes Thompson, Mother of Shakeem Richards: “There is a video but the short time that I got to talk to my son he said it’s not just what the media is showing. He said he paid to get into the establishment and he was refused and he wanted to know what’s the reason why he couldn’t have entered the establishment and one of the police just bombarded him and was dragging him by the shirt and was being disrespectful not knowing what type of person they’re dealing with. They didn’t even realize that it was an officer or a colleague until the whole thing got out of proportion. They apparently posted a bail and I guess I don’t know who in authority just wanted to be different or demeaning or pressuring my son and they decided that they will take him to the higher court but then what about the officer that assaulted my son ? He was provoked. I am not justifying nothing because you have to call a spade a spade. Yes my son might be wrong for manhandling the police but he was manhandled as well, he was hit. The video didn’t show that he got hit but the person who produced the video saw him get hit and he retaliated and after this the person said my son had a brief talk with the police and they apologized.”
Conditions to Richards’ bail are that, he must surrender all his travel documents before he can access bail, he must not apply for any new travel documents without permission from the court, he is not to leave the country without permission from the court, he is not to contact the virtual complaints or any other Prosecution witnesses.