Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2022. 4:59 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Human Rights Commission of Belize (HRCB) has called attention to a news story about police officers injuring a Belize City man when called to respond to a domestic dispute on Saturday.
Police officers are being accused of seriously injuring 26-year-old Joshua Smith on Saturday night in Belize City after shooting him repeatedly with rubber bullets. The Commission says officers are limited only to objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional use of force in order to ensure the safety of an officer or other person; stop an attack; make an arrest; control a subject or prevent escape.
Smith’s family claims that while the officer leading the team was specific in his instructions, the team members failed to follow orders and let the situation get out of control, to the point that Smith is hospitalized and may potentially lose his sight.
The Commission judges that the amount of force described to be used to de-escalate the situation was not necessary and that officers resorted to rubber bullets rather than other de-escalation techniques as stipulated in the Department’s Policies and Procedure Manual.
More training is needed in managing mental health situations, although the manual for training was established 15 years ago; the Commission suggests adding a mental health care provider to the response team to guide its tactics.
The matter is officially under Department investigation.
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