The Court returns to the scene of Laddie’s death
Today, the manslaughter trial of former Police Corporal Kareem Martinez for the shooting death of 14-year-old Laddie Gillett continued in Dangriga Supreme Court. The session began around 9 o’clock and saw PC Claude Augustine, one of the officers who responded that night, take the stand to provide his recollection of the events. And, around 11 o’clock the proceedings moved to Placencia Village, at the very location where Gillett was shot and killed. The visit was suggested by the presiding Justice Antoinette Moore to provide the court with a better insight into the crime scene. Three witnesses, Pablo Mai, a crime scene technician, Devon Castillo, the security guard who called the police, and Thomas Palacio, Laddie’s friend who was with him that night, were crossed examined during the walk-through. Palacio says that while it was painful to return and relive the tragic incident, he felt obligated to ensure the truth of his friend’s death is told.
Thomas Palacio, Friend of Laddie Gillett: “It’s alway awful to think about it so to go there physically it’s ten times worse but to me it’s something I have to do it for my friend Laddie. You know the court has its system and I have to do what the system says. But it’s also a way of me showing people you know this happened and we have to get justice for it . So it’s mixed feelings but I’m okay. I’ve been back there but not to just go there – we’ve had a vigil there before. I passed the beach club, I walk the beach a lot but to go there go there I don’t really go there too often, it’s too painful to go there. I was never kind of Belizean who hated the police. I was never the kind of Belizean who disrespected the police so to somewhat be a victim of police brutality is kinda – contradicts what I personally thought the police were because I first hand saw what they’re capable of doing. So – what was the question again I feel like I kind of strayed just now but I just right now I know police are very good people and there are some bad people like everything in life you have good and bad. I don’t hate the police. I won’t let one bad act, even though police have been doing a lot of nonsense these couple of years I won’t let that tarnish my view on the police. They work hard to protect the Belizeans. If I have an issue I will call the police I won’t call my friends so I have to respect and appreciation for them but in the same breath I feel like there’s lots of work that needs to be done on their behalf because you shouldn’t be afraid of the police.”
Gillett’s foster dad, Emil Bradley, spoke to Love News after the visit and says it provided a clearer picture of what transpired on the night of July 14, 2021. He explained that while the case is still ongoing the family is confident that justice for Laddie will be delivered.
Emil Bradley, Laddie’s Father: “It’s a little bit difficult. I mean sitting there on the bench reminiscing the times we used to have when we used to come down here together and play in the sea you know it’s hard but I’m glad that she came down because on picture it’s so different, it makes a huge difference being on the actual are or the actual ground than seeing it on picture. So she gets a clear view how close it was the distance and the bushes they were claiming there were bushes, there’s no bushes for them to show because there wasn’t any bushes so what this does it makes our case stronger and it gives me more hope. Even though I’m sad and it brings back hurtful and joyful memories that we spent here together but so far I am satisfied with everything that is going on right now so far it’s just waiting for the end result to see exactly what will happen. Laddie is about five feet six inches the most. At that distance the further you are the higher the bullet will be going so it’s just a common sense but you might say da fool di talk but dah no fool the listen all the time. And these are things that really make you get as a family it hurts you to see the lie that they’re telling. I mean being on the spot I wonder how they feel in their hearts knowing the lie that they’re telling. Look at this instance one Mr.Salgado is trying to come with breeze and all kind of thing about the place was dark, make it better if the place was dark you should not fire shots because you don’t know what you’re shooting at so I don’t know what he is getting at but I don’t really want to get to riled up but so far the things are going good so far, I’m satisfied with the police not like the other two like day before yesterday everything is going good so far and with that talking about the other two I think we should demand the outcome of whatever discipline will be placed upon these police officers because to be honest these are the types of the people that the PM is saying we are trying to get rid if we have to pay them out listen to them you will know why our conviction rate is so low.”
Bradley also responded to claims made by PC Augustine this morning’s when he took the stand. Augustine stated that when he encountered Gillett and Palacio that night he immediately identified himself as a police officer. However, Bradley says that based on today’s visit to the crime scene it seems very unlikely.
Emil Bradley, Laddie’s Father: “One of them testified and said “Stop. Police.” Okay so with this type of wind if you’re running and this wind how will you hear “Stop. Police.” at such distance ? But because they ran so close to them and when they ran out from behind the corner there it’s just natural if you’re running somewhere look how close they are I mean trying to reach to beat the curfew time and then they come and the lie and say after curfew and breaching curfew and all of that no need for all the lie they just have to come out and tell the truth. So naturally if you are running somewhere and danger is in front of you you will go to where you came from because you know danger is not there, that is exactly what happened they were hiding there behind the fence, ran out in front of the little boys them noh holler no police you will run. They will turn back to run where they came from so that is exactly what happened so they’re talking about no light and it’s dark and all of that but let’s just wait. I’m satisfied with today and with the proceeding and how it is going so far let’s just wait and see how it goes.”
The trial continues tomorrow