Posted: Thursday, June 1, 2023. 6:44 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: A trio of current and former members of the Belize Police Department learned their fates last week.
29-year-old Kareem Martinez will have 18 years in prison to contemplate the fatal shot that took the life of Laddie Gillett nearly two years ago in Placencia.
But his former boss is inclined to agree for that the man the former Corporal was until then, the sentence seems excessive: “Kareem Martinez was not one of those rogue police; he certainly was an outstanding police officer. His track record in the department is a stellar one. I am sure that on that day in question, he did not wake up with the mindset that he was going to kill someone on that day and I am also sure that when the incident occurred, he was extremely remorseful. I don’t think that he would have intended to kill the young man… I would agree with the family of Laddie Gillett that the sentence is excessive in nature, it’s high, but that is a matter for Kareem and his family to deal with and I will end my comment there.”
Nonetheless, the Commissioner was constrained to agree with presiding High Court Justice Antoinette Moore that Martinez would serve as an example to cops to think, even in the “split second” that some only get to act.
On Wednesday night, the Justice for Laddie Foundation in a press statement echoed the words of foster grandmother Lucy Fleming that Martinez failed to show true remorse at any point and that no matter how good he was as a cop, his one bad action cannot be redeemed, and that the Commissioner cannot now play mindreader on his behalf.
But reporters didn’t have to read the Commissioner’s mind to find out what he thinks about ex-Special Constable Carlos Chavez, who was sentenced to up to 30 years imprisonment for assault of a child and unlawful sexual intercourse, nor Constable Bregilio Ack, who is on interdiction after allegedly placing wandering hands on a female colleague during an overnight shift at a police booth on Rocky Road a few months ago.
“For [Chavez], I would have said that the sentence is too lenient. You abuse a child; I think you should be lost in prison,” the Commissioner said of the condemned, whose sentences will run concurrently and not consecutively, so he will only serve 12 years.
As for Ack, he was never going to get away with what he allegedly did, as the Commissioner explained: “The department is not a man’s department no more. It’s a department for all genders whether you are LGBTQI or whatever the case may be, you’re straight – whatever. If you are a member of this department, we respect you and we are not going to allow nobody to infringe on the rights of another. And I can assure the female officer which I am sure she knows that she has the full support of the administration, in terms of what she did in making the report. We can only be a professional organization if we address issues that affect our members.”
It is not clear whether Ack’s case has gone to court.
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