Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2022. 7:39 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: What should have been a routine stop-and-search inside a bar in Placencia village, Stann Creek District early on Easter morning has left a police officer in a grave condition and a Belize City man under suspicion.
No formal report has been made due to the Sergeant’s medical condition, according to Communications Officer for the Department Assistant Superintendent of Police Fitzroy Yearwood. But despite the accused, Michael Francis’ insistence in public, the investigation starts, ASP Yearwood said, with the alleged assault and what should have been done differently on Francis’s side: “I know that [the officer’s] condition has not improved as yet. Mister Francis has made his allegation. We will treat this investigation with an open mind and he will be allotted all his rights. But at the end of the day, he assaulted a police officer – whether the officer initiated contact, that will be proven by investigators. The fact remains the officer had some reason to approach, and he can insist that the person approached wrongfully – whether or not he did, that will be proven. But if the police approach you and ask for a search, the best thing is for you to cooperate.”
While ASP Yearwood expressed surprise that Francis would “own up” to his actions, that will also be taken into account. There is no confirmation that he has turned himself in with his attorney as he suggested, and no indication of any additional surveillance or video of the incident.
The other side of the incident is the reaction of fellow police officers to the incident, which has earned them a chiding from ASP Yearwood in public. He reminded today that the matter is under investigation and that will determine which charges, if any, will be laid. Some of the comments he saw on social media, he said, rose to the level of “threats” in police vernacular and such “illegal behaviour” will not be tolerated: “We are here to protect and serve no matter what. And even if you are feeling something personally and are affected personally by what you saw, we are professionals and we must keep our personal feelings to ourselves and not make these kinds of irresponsible comments publicly.” The Professional Standards Branch (PSB) is handling the cases of multiple officers; an exact figure could not be given.
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