San Pedro police were quick to criminally charge two of their own - after a tourist complained of callous cop extortion. 28 year old American Timothy Braun alleged that on the night of Thursday, June 15th, he was in downtown San Pedro, cooling off with a new friend, and smoking a cigarette. That's when three uniformed police officers pulled up in a golf cart and accused him of smoking marijuana. He protested and said it was only tobacco, but the cuffed him, slapped him unto the golf cart and told him they were taking him into the station. But instead, Braun alleges that the cops drove him to a dark area along the Boca del Rio River. That's where they took off his cuffs, and took him to the water's edge, where one of the officers allegedly put a gun to his head and told him that if he did not give them all of his money, he would end up in the river. Braun had every reason to believe they were serious, and told them that his money was at the apartment he had rented in town. The police took him there, and proceeded to properly ransack the place, stealing $500US dollars in the process. He claims that they then shared up the cash right in front of him. According to Braun, the officers told him that if he were to report what happened, there would be consequences.
Not knowing where else to go, Braun emailed his story to the San Pedro Sun the next morning. The editor Tamar Sniffin, called the officer commanding ASP Henry Jemmott who wasted no time in putting the case together. Unlike some formation which wait interminably for the Professional Standards Branch, ASP Jemott and his team brought criminal charges quickly, telling the San Pedro Sun, quote, "There is more than sufficient evidence to get a conviction against these officers."
Two of the three officers were charged as followed: PC Denfield Nelson Ramos was charged with Theft, Extortion and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon - which is a no-bail firearm offense. Special Constable Orlando Mendez was charged with Theft and Extortion. He was offered bail of $5,000 dollars. They both pled not guilty, and Ramos was remanded to Prison for the firearm offence. According to the San Pedro Sun, the third officer PC Malcolm Ramirez was to be charged with Abetment to Theft and Extortion, but has agreed to testify against his colleagues in exchange for immunity.
Jemott is quoted as telling the San Pedro Sun "I have zero tolerance for this behaviorâ€¦.What on Earth were those officers thinking? Trust me, they will pay for these serious, criminal offenses. There are no words for how disgusted I am."
And, he should be especially disgusted; Jemott gave that same PC Ramos a special commendation just 6 months ago for outstanding performance.
But Ramos has been in the news before for shady police practices. He's the one who refused to testify in the case against UDP Minister Mark King in 2013 - casting the case to fall apart. He was placed on interdiction at the time.
But this story does have a happy ending, sort of. The Editor of The San Pedro Sun, the Mayor, and the BTIA office got Braun somewhere else to stay for the rest of his vacation while the San Pedro Town Council provided him with cash and other amenities.
SP Police Officers Behind Bars after Robbing a Tourist at Gunpoint
On Thursday night, June 15th, while smoking a cigarette with a new acquaintance outside of a popular downtown bar and restaurant, Timothy Braun, a 28 year-old tourist from Wisconsin USA, was apprehended by three San Pedro police officers. The officers, who were on a golf cart and dressed in uniform, accused him of smoking marijuana. Braun informed the officers that he was smoking tobacco, but was promptly told they were taking him in for smoking weed. He was handcuffed behind his back and placed on the back seat of the golf cart. According to Braun, the officers drove him to a dark area along the Boca del Rio River just before reaching the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge. Once there, the handcuffs were removed and he was led to the water's edge, where one officer put a gun to his head and stated that if he did not give them all of his money, he would end up in the river. Fearing for his life, Braun explained that his cash was at the Airbnb apartment he had rented in town. The police then drove him to the location, and after he let them in, they ransacked the apartment and stole $500US cash, brazenly dividing up the cash in front of him. According to Braun, the officers told him that if anyone were to ask, he was to say he was drunk and the police escorted him home. They also warned that should he go out again that night, or report what happened, there would be consequences.
Badly shaken, Braun turned to The San Pedro Sun for help, emailing the editor Tamara Sniffin the next morning on Friday the 16th. His message explained what had happened and stated, "The reason I am contacting you is to try and let this story be known, to hopefully prevent corruption of this nature in the future; to expose these criminals for what they are."
After the police report was filed, Sniffin, through the SP BTIA arranged for a different location for Braun to stay, and Mayor Guerrero and the San Pedro Town Council were quick to accommodate the unfortunate tourist during the remainder of his stay, providing him with cash and other amenities.
Following Braun's report, Corporal Woods and OC Jemmott diligently investigated the allegations. After interviewing the witness who was smoking with Braun at the time of the incident, reviewing surveillance camera footage and confirming physical descriptions of the officers, OC Jemmott told The San Pedro Sun, "There is more than sufficient evidence to get a conviction against these officers."
Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun