Belize’s number 1 tourist destination is Ambergris Caye, San Pedro. But a brutal incident which played out in the wee hours of Saturday morning on la Isla Bonita is threatening to drive tourists away by the droves, while further infuriating Belizeans about the Police officers’ treatment of civilians.
A video which was posted on social media on Saturday exploded as it showed Police officers in casual clothing, shooting in public. This after several men tried to intervene in their arrest of an unidentified woman who is seen in the footage being viciously assaulted by Police officers, who drag her on the ground, stomp her with their feet and beat her violently.
The circumstances that preceded the incident are not fully known, but we do know that the Police has had to react swiftly, announcing that two officers have been charged. We’ll get to that shortly, but first to the video that has triggered a firestorm across the country. Before we show, we advise our viewers that some of it is violent and may not be suitable for children.
A Police press release today indicated that there are reports that two women were the alleged victims of Police brutality. One of the men seen in the video is Alfredo Gaspar Cowo Mancia, who videoed the incident with his cell phone. He reported to the Police Department that when the officer saw him they tried to take his phone. When he refused, one PC Madrill, punched him on the nose causing it to bleed. Mancia’s brothers Jose and George Cowo approached the officers and PC Coye told the men, according to the report, to leave. When they refused, Coye told the other officers to detain Cowo. PC Coye came toward them and pulled out his 9mm. Mancias was then struck on his left eye. PC Coye then started to shoot in front of Macias’ feet and as he stepped back, he saw his right foot bleeding. He also saw PC Madrill shooting and then noticed his left big toe bleeding also. Despite his injuries, Mancias was detained. Hours later he was taken to the Police station and later transported to the San Pedro Polyclinic. Police have since tried their best to do damage control and even sent the person in charge of the Department’s Professional Standards Board, Assistant Commissioner of Police Keith Lino, to investigate. While investigations are ongoing, the Department has moved to charge 27-year-old police officer Norman Coye, with two counts of wounding, and 22-year-old police officer Darnell Madrill, for one count of Wounding.