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Coote Family Alleges Harassment by Police

The Coote family in Dangriga Town is alleging harassment by Police officers in that municipality.  According to Frederick Coote of the Second New Site Area, a team of officers showed up at his home last night just after ten o’clock.  Correspondent Harry Arzu has the story.’

Frederick Coote, Resident

Frederick Coote, Resident: “They didn’t even open the gate, as they jumped out of the car they started shooting, ran up in the yard, shot the dogs, pepper sprayed the dogs, shot one of the dogs again and they ran upstairs and started firing a whole heap of shots about a hundred shots or fifty or more. They ran up inside. One of my cousins ran under the bed because we felt like it was someone that – they didn’t even ask any questions they just started firing shots. They cranked the gun and shot the guy under his bed, Justin Palacio. They fired about seven shots in the house, came inside again and ran up again. They got my brother out of the house and started grabbing him and saying “Want me to start choking you out ? Shut up !” They just started doing all kinds of things. My little nephew was in the house, the two of them one of them is fourteen the next one is about two and started shooting up in front of the children not even asking any questions. They made all of those girls sit down on the chair. I had already escaped, I ran into the bathroom. They hurt Justin Palacio. Police just lifted the bed and shot the man from underneath the bed, and didn’t even ask any questions.”

Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: Why are you guys being targeted by the police ? Why ?

Frederick Coote, Resident: “I don’t know. I don’t really know. They just like bothering us for nothing. They paid us black for no reason and we do honest living, we are fishermen. We don’t go rob anybody, we don’t rob people, we just do our own thing, we go fishing, we have everything we need, we don’t need to rob anybody or do anybody anything. I just really want to put an end to this because it’s like they’re chancing us out of our rights. We have feelings.”

24-year-old Coote was shot in April 2020 when a gunman fired shots at his home.  He says to date he is unaware of who shot him.  Police had described last year’s shooting as gang related.  Correspondent Harry Arzu also spoke with the Police Commissioner Chester Williams who responded to the allegations of police harassment by the Coote family.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: The entire Dangriga Town knows the Coote and they are not strangers to the law and you cannot be out there perpetrating criminal acts and expect that the police are not going to come to you. I’m sure that you can attest to the fact that the police do not go to your house, and many other law abiding citizens in Dangriga can also attest that police do not go to their house. There mere fact that the police is visiting the Cootes it simply means that they are a part and parcel of what is happening in Dangriga Town and I can tell you I have been behind the police harping at them that we need to go after these persons who are making the lives of Dangrigan miserable and ensure that they’re dealt with in accordance with the law. So the police will be visiting them more often and they have to learn to live with it until they learn become law abiding citizens. Charges have been levied against them in the past and including for gang membership and I have also tasked the GI III investigative team to see what can be done with a view to ensure that we develop gang charges against those gang members including the Cootes, the Garcicas and you have the Wababa Norales crowd because they are the ones creating the problems. We know who they are and we must ensure that we go after them with a view to see how we can prevent them from continuing to perpetrate their criminal acts and making the lives of Dangrigans miserable.”

Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: Would you be able to visit those hours ? 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I am not here to visit them at all. I am here to visit law abiding people with a view to see what we can do to make their lives more comfortable.”