Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2022. 5:07 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: A pair of police officers accused of helping to land a drug plane in November last year in the area of Bladen, Toledo District, along the Southern Highway, have been found not guilty of the disciplinary charge of failure to obey a lawful order.
The men, Corporal Elmer Nah and Constable Manuel Caliz, were accused of holding 139 rounds of .223 police-issued ammunition in Nah’s vehicle, held after the bust.
But at a disciplinary hearing, another officer, one Corporal Richard Arnold, testified that he signed out for and was responsible for the ammunition. Nah was on leave at the time and claimed he had just left a family function and was heading home.
According to Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, the result is baffling for several reasons.
First, he says, “the officer who testified to the effect that he had left the ammunition inside the vehicle – the vehicle [in which he supposedly had left the ammunition is not the same vehicle that the two gentlemen were found in, and [which] had the ammunition in it.”
Second, the hearing is not treated as a court of law: “It is a process by which we allow the principle of natural justice to take its course; it’s a fact-finding tribunal. The strict rule of evidence is not applicable, and likewise, it is not like in a court of law where a person must be found guilty based on the principle of beyond all reasonable doubt – meaning that the standard of proof is not beyond all reasonable doubt; in our tribunal, we have the civil standard, which is a balance of probability…” The use of the stricter standard has led to multiple acquittals.
The Commissioner has the power to review the finding and change it if needed and so he has sent for the notes of evidence. The men remain on interdiction pending resolution of the criminal charges, as are their fellows accused of landing the plane.
Corporal Arnold is also not off the hook, the Commissioner said, as if his story is correct, he may face charges of his own: “How the hell [did] the ammunition get from one vehicle to the other vehicle? Certainly, these officers had to move it from one vehicle to the next.”
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