Mike Menjivar, owner of La Cabana Restaurant and Bar in Belmopan, Cayo District returned to court today as a follow up to an incident back in May 2011 where the Gang Suppression Unit riddled their home with one hundred and fifty six bullets while Menjivar and his family were inside. Today, Mike, his wife and his new attorney, Arthur Saldivar were in court when the case was adjourned for the third time. According to Saldivar, this is his first appearance in court for the civil aspect of the case.
“Today, basically was the first appearance that I have made on Mr. Menjivar’s behalf as it relates to the civil matter. So, I had to put myself on record before Justice Arana and in that regard the other side has certain objections that they want to make and there is a date set for that application that they are putting forward to be heard which is the 26th of October. I see no difficulty in answering whatever it is that they are bringing forward but as you would appreciate this is an ordeal that my client has been going through since 2011. At that time I was one of the attorneys working the case and we are just now continuing through to see if we can bring this to a conclusion.”
The family is seeking compensation following the incident but Saldivar would not disclose how much is being sought. He did, however, state that the Menjivar family was left in distress since the shooting.
“There are a number of grounds upon which the application and the claim was brought against the Attorney General and Sergeant Gongora and most of those are going to be disputed by the government. As my client has laid out, once the criminal matter was over it was appreciated fully that the constitutional rights of Mr. Menjivar and his entire family were violated and not only were their constitutional rights violated but the actions of the agents of the government placed their lives and the lives of their children in danger.”
While the family was in their home, it is alleged that the same time bullets were flying through the home, one of the daughter’s was in bed having a epilepsy attack with her mother at her side who had to seek refuge in a bathroom whilst their two other children had to run for cover behind a washing machine. As well, five of their dogs were killed. Mike Menjivar says that their family has been a mess ever since.
“In our family and in our business it’s a mess. Everything is destroyed in there so it is a big impact. I will not go into the details but there is a mess in there. It is not the regular life that we used to live before but they are not worrying about their mistakes.”
The defendant in this case is the Gang Suppression Unit, namely Sergeant 360 Santiago Gongora who was the officer in charge of that operation. At the time of the incident, the GSU was then being headed by Marco Vidal, who is now at the helm of Special Branch in the Belize Police Department. Meanwhile, later in the afternoon there was another adjourned case – this time involving Keyren Tzib. Tzib is the Coast Guard Seaman who is on trial for the murder of Thytis James Blancaneaux which occurred July 18, 2015. The case was adjourned until October 13 but we were unable to verify why as both her attorney, Darrell Bradley and family members declined interviews.