Victims of alleged police brutality in San Pedro call for justice

Three residents including a female, along with their families and the wider community of San Pedro Town, are calling for “justice” into what they call plain view “brutality” and use of “unnecessary” force by police officers attached to the San Pedro Police Formation. The officers include a woman police constable (WPC) and a corporal of police who were off duty, out of uniform and drinking minutes prior to the incident unfolded. The incident erupted in the wee hours of Monday December 17th and the actions of the lawmen were done in plain view of many residents, some of whom captured chilling incidents on their personal cellular phones.

According to the official police report, a man was detained by officers who were “socializing” at a well known establishment over the water, sometime around 12:40AM on Monday. Ricky Jurado, resident of San Pedro for all his life, was detained that night and ended up spending hours behind the detention cell at the San Pedro Police Station and eventually charged for assaulting a police officer.

SP Police Brutality Vianie Perez the night of the incident. (Photo credit: The San Pedro Sun)

Speaking to the press, Jurado said that as he was coming out of the bathroom inside the establishment, he saw a male dancing in a seductive manner behind his girlfriend. Jurado went on to explained that his girlfriend was unaware of what the male person was doing behind her and that it was only after the dark skin male proceeded to grab her from behind the waste that she realized what he was doing.. “I confronted him and asked him what is happening with you (the male). From there, they (the male) eventually walked out. I told all my friends let’s just go so when we came out of the bar, they were waiting in the middle of the bridge (dock) and they started the altercation. That is when Mr Young (Police Corporal), which both of them were under the influence of alcohol, took out his gun, grabbed my neck and put his gun in my mouth,” said Jurado adding that “he threatened me that he would kill me if I even move. The female officer that was involved said ‘shoot that Spanish’.” It was not until then said Jurado that he learnt that the male person was in-fact a Police Corporal and one of the two females a WPC both attached to the San Pedro Police Department. According to Jurado, he then put up his hands indicating that he was totally submissive to police. “My fiancé said ‘officer why are you doing this’ and that is when the other officer, the female (WPC Young) assaulted her – it was two of them. I tried to move from the officer and he chocked me and I almost passed out. When he saw I was falling, that is when he moved his hands from around me and then put the gun to my head. He then walked me off the bridge, with the gun to my head, all the way to where I was put into a police car,” recollected Jurado who was taken to the Police station until late the afternoon. The officers were later confirmed to be Corporal Mark Young and WPC Sherifa Young.

Meanwhile, Perez, Mauricio and Jurado are in the process of filing reports to the Belize Police Internal Affairs Department and the office of the Ombudsman for them to conduct a report and bring disciplinary action against the police officers involved. Inspector Pook said however that based on a report that was filed by Perez and a witness, the San Pedro Police have initiated a local and internal investigation to determine if they were any wrong doings by the two officers named by the witnesses and the complainant. Pook said that he is conducting the investigation and if indeed any wrong doing is being found, the police department will proceed with disciplinary actions. Pook confirmed however that both WPC Young and Corporal Young remain on active duty. It is uncertain why the officers remain on active duty since by law, when police officers are placed under investigation; they are put on leave to make the investigation impartial.

Read the full article at The San Pedro Sun

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