Police Commissioner Defends Officer After Pistol-Whipping Incident Sparks Outrage

Police Commissioner Defends Officer After Pistol-Whipping Incident Sparks Outrage

The Belize Police Department has broken its silence on the video of a cop pistol-whipping a detainee in San Pedro Town. The short clip was posted to social media on Sunday with little context and sparked outrage among the public. The footage showed Police Sergeant Devon Makin kicking an alleged gunman and hitting him in the head with a gun. The officer also demanded the recording stop while hurling expletives. The incident drew tons of criticism, good and bad, with many, including the LOO, calling for the department to suspend the cop for his behavior. However, today, the cop’s godfather, the Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, provided clarity on the situation and claimed that most of the officer’s actions were warranted.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I think that before we jump to conclusions it is essential that we ascertain what actually transpired and in this particular instance the Sergeant had reported off duty and was on his way home. On his way home he was stopped by two minors who were extremely frantic and in fear who complained to him that the same young man that you all saw in the video with him and about two other persons were chasing them with masks and firearms. Now the Sergeant being the type of person he is he didn’t leave the two minors in the cold, he returned and went to see if he could apprehend these individuals. And he met the one who was seen with him in the video and obviously the information is that he may be armed, the police would have to take out his weapon to secure his safety as well as the safety of others. And so in so doing what we would normally do if we have a suspect who is believed to be armed is you put him to kneel down or on the ground on his belly until you could ascertain that he is safe. And the Sergeant attempted to do that but while he was trying to put the person in either of those positions the young man was resisting. He only has two hands and so he was holding him with one hand and had the gun in the other hand and so he tried to hit him with the other hand but that’s the hand that had the gun. Now I am not going to condone the issue of the pistol whipping because the truth is the weapon could have gone off and the result would have been different. But we have the look at the situation in its totality. It’s not like the Sergeant just went and picked on someone for no reason and just beat him up. There was a complaint made by two minors and even though he was off duty he responded to the calls of these two minors to try and apprehend the individual. And those persons who did the video recording they know exactly what happened but as usual they slice the video and just released what needed to be released. Now the two minors and their parents gone to the San Pedro police station and have lodged their complaints but the young man now as much as the public is here crying out for him he escaped because when the officer went after the other to try to apprehend the other he escaped and from then to now he has not even resurfaced. He has gone in hiding so if it is that you know that you’re so innocent, you have done nothing wrong and you believe that the police have abused you then why can’t you come forward and make your complaint and make your case ? But he has not done that so that just goes to show that he knows exactly what he was did and he intends to continue hiding from the law. Again you all can take the time, go to San Pedro, interview the people who live in the neighborhood where this young man lives and you are going to get a true picture of the type of individual he is because people are crying about the man is innocent, this and that he is not an innocent person and we have to be real.”

Williams also responded to the LOO’s statements and denied that Makin’s relation to him would play any role in whether he is penalized.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “And I listened to the interview by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday and what he failed to to say to you is that he sits, waits for something which he believes is like a scrumptious meal and the alacrity with which he prances on it to gain political mileage is alarming. And here comes the media, feeding him with that scrumptiousness of the meal and he gets that energy, that power to say things but he failed to say to you that when the UDP were in power and he needed security, bodyguard it was the same Devon Makin that used to guard him. And up to now even though he promised to pay the Sergeant for the work he did he still has not yet been paid. He promised the Sergeant and when he comes into power he’s going to do this for him now he wants to kill the Sergeant, come on Shyne Barrow you have to be real. Then we have the issue with Inspector Martinez. He is my first cousin correct ? And what happened ? My first cousin is more to me than a Godson and if I was able to move quickly on Inspector Martinez who is my first cousin then why would I not be able to do so with Mr.Makin if it were that we were not looking at the thing holistically. I am not Jules Vasquez going to be the type that’s going to jump on something because you or Shyne Barrow wants us to do it. Professional Standards Branch is in the picture, they are investigating, when the investigation is done then we’ll see how it goes from there.”

We understand that the man in the video has been identified as 22-year-old Ryan Melendez. According to Williams, wanted posters will be issued for him and the two other men who eluded the police. Additionally, Williams reiterated that it is not an offense to video police officers in the line of duty from a safe distance.

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