Justice for Laddie Foundation advocates for police reform in Belize
While the trial against Laddie’s killer Kareem Martinez has come to an end, his family’s pursuit of justice for Laddie continues. The slain teen’s family through the Justice for Laddie Foundation says they continue to advocate for police reform particularly when it comes to the policing of minors. During, today’s court session it was revealed that the police are working to create a Child Encounter Policy. Attorney, Richard “Dickie” Bradley, says that it is his hope that the Government will now be making meaningful steps to ensure officers are properly trained before being trusted with the lives of others.
Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney: “What is of importance is that a judge in the Supreme Court of Belize the best judge that we have has taken time out to focus on a major problem and she actually said before I pronounce my verdict I have a couple of things to say and you would have heard her refer to the constitution of Belize several times because the shooting of Laddie Gillett had made no changes whatsoever in the system. None. Only a few weeks ago a police officer issued with a powerful military rifle 2.23 shot a 19 year old claiming that the motorcycle was shooting at him and it is clear to us that there’s been no review, no reform, there’s no assistance given to the Commissioner of Police by way of personnel, by way of training, we the lawyers who come to court and see this heartbreaking results – the tragedy here is that nothing can bring back Laddie Gillett but a young police officer in his late twenties will more than likely go to prison for an error that could have been avoided had there been proper training and proper management of police officers. I don’t know how you shoot a teenage in his back with a powerful 2.23. That goes straight through you. So nothing learned from Laddie Gillett. All the protest of the young people in the curfew period, all the expressions that came out, the government said that there would be police reform nothing has happened. And God forbid but other people will lose their lives at the hands of poorly trained police officers. This was a scathing criticism of the police department, of a system that fails us over and over again.”
Laddie’s family is also crafting a set of rules known as Laddie’s Law. Lucy Fleming, Laddie’s foster grandmother, and Bryony Fleming-Bradley – Laddie Gillett’s Foster Mother explained that the foundation hopes to work with the police to have them implemented.
Lucy Fleming, Laddie’s Foster Grandmother: “Well I think it’s very important. You know we’ve been in touch with the police academy and we’ve been talking to them about if we could have any part or put anything into enhanced training because we do feel that without training of the police force we’re not going to get where we need to be so it’s not only the civilians speaking at this point in time I also think we need additional training for the police so that when they find themselves in that situation they don’t act in the way Martinez acted. We begun already with our legacy work. Laddie’s legacy will go on. We will keep his light shining with our tournament, supporting our ACE football club. So we’ll be doing more and more on his behalf you’ll hear a little bit more about Laddie’s Law we’re just going through the legal system now to see how it sits within the legal system but this is not the last anyone is going to hear about Laddie. Laddie’s name is going to be carried forth. We’re going to be doing more under his name and like Bryny said it’s not just for our Laddie it’s for every Laddie out there.”