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LOO Condemns the Killing of Laddie Gillett Calls on GOB to let Justice Prevail

An alphabet soup of organizations and people from all walks of life have added their voices to express dismay over the shooting of Laddie Gillett. Among them was the Leader of the Opposition Shyne Barrow, who said today that the charge of manslaughter simply does not go far enough. He adds that this exposes what he calls the constant criminalization of black and brown children in Belize.

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Opposition Leader: “It is a tragic incident, one that we cannot normalize and I believe it is an example of the way that we criminalize our youth of certain class and races. And so a young fourteen year old should not be on vacation with his family in Placencia and whether it is before curfew or after curfew you know face the consequence of being killed in cold blood for running away. So certainly there appears to be unjustifiable use of force and I surmise that from the surface of the evidence that was presented by the police report I am aware that we do live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty but I will say what appears to be the facts and I do believe that the DPP should have charged Mr.Martinez, police officer Martinez with murder and Manslaughter and allow for the jury or the judge to decide. I’ve never been involved with the criminal justice system here in Belize so I’m not sure if they could levy multiple charges I don’t pretend to be a lawyer but I would hope that I know as in other jurisdictions you could levy multiple charges and leave it to the jury or the judge to decide and so I think if any chage was to be levied it should have been murder.”

In addition to the criminalization of children, the Opposition Leader added that perhaps the department needs to take stock of a pervasive culture.

Reporter: Would you summarize or hazard to say that perhaps that this is a culture within the police department that needs to change ? 

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Opposition Leader: “Well that is something that I would request that the Minister of Police, The Commissioner of Police take steps to make that evaluation. I do not believe in wholesale condemnation of any organization or any group or class of people so I would be reluctant to draw that conclusion. Certainly I do believe it warrants a complete examination, a comprehensive examination and analysis by the relevant authorities to ensure that this is not a culture and if it is a culture to ensure that they can destroy and eliminate that culture. I do believe training needs to be looked at if the training that is being given to these police officers is strong enough because whereas you say it is police officers have done this in the past it has to be considered why is it that they’re doing this ? Is it just rogue police ? Because you will always have rogue police, you will always have police that disregard the policies of the department but I don’t know if that reflects a complete failure of the department. I don’t know if that is an indictment of the culture that prevails in the department but I think it warrants not just an investigation and examination by the police but they should get an independent authority, an independent entity to come in and to look at what would lead to this type of break down, to this type of failure to adhere to the policy of the department.”

In addition to a revamp of training, Barrow added that he will write to the Minister of Police, the Commissioner and the Prime Minister to see how best crime-fighting police can improve.