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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Video of Tour Guide Being Manhandled By Police at Municipal Airstrip Causes Furor

A video of another outrageous case of police abuse emerged this weekend - and it left heads shaking across Belize - with everyone asking, how could lawmen be so just plain "ignorant" and lawless?

It is a question we have asked many times - and this weekend's video gave us all reason for profound reflection on why police so often have to come form a place of aggression - especially when dealing with young black men.

And the teenager they strung up in this case was a 19 year old gainfully employed in the tourism sector as a boat captain, and a tour guide, while also being a full-time student.

But to police on Saturday at the municipal airstrip - he was just another suspicious youth. And here's what happened:

It's the video that lit up social media this weekend, shocking all who saw it - an overly aggressive and abusive exchange. And this morning in his own words, that young man Shamar Foster told our cameras what he experienced on Friday.

Shamar Foster, Victim of Police brutality
"He slapped me two times the first time he slapped after my phone and I pulled back. That's when he said you want this to get nasty and he then put his hand on his firearm, from there he said you know what I will charge you for assaulting a police officer which was never the case, so he was taking me to the mobile when a bystander came and say no you can't do this, this won't happen and then the female came out and said what part of you look like a tour guide and then he backed it up by saying "tour guide mark on you"

Reporter
"How did that strike you? Is it that perhaps the color of your skin or the way he perceived you - you cannot be a professional?"

Shamar Foster, Victim of Police brutality
"Well, I think maybe it's that, a dark-skinned youth from out of Belize City can't be a tour guide. I don't know what is their problem and I really feared for my life. I was wondering if it's going to be a next Laddie Gillett, because he had his hand on his weapon and he was shouting at me and I'm saying that he was drinking, but I assumed, because he had a strong liquor scent and he was all up in my face shouting. I think the amount of people that were around, he noticed what was happening and so..."

And this time the department isn't fighting back against the regulations, they've come out to openly condemn the actions of this officer.

ASP FitzRoy Yearwood, Communications Officer
"It is very unfortunate that our police officers operated in such an unprofessional manner and I can assure the general public that our commissioner of police and the minister of police doesn't tolerate behaviours like this, the use of so many obscenities bottled along with his behaviour, I think at one time I saw the persons phone or device that they were using fell to the ground. I am certain that the corporal should have taken control of the situation, that is why we promote people as supervisors when you see an officer going off tangent, the supervisor should come in as that how to say the controlling person where you could have even backed away the constable from that situation so as to not have him embarrass the department and himself any further."

And while they condemn the way the incident was handled the police say that the search came about after a tip that tour guides were transporting drugs on and off the islands.

Shamar Foster says he doesn't buy it.

Shamar Foster, Victim of Police brutality
"I don't have any idea why someone would tell the police I need to be searched, but after all this commotion he did say that they are acting upon information received, but then the female police officer that was with him was saying that I look suspicious. So, it was 2 different stories - he is saying that they received information and the female police officer was saying no, you look suspicious."

His relative and boss Eric - agrees.

Reporter
"Do you believe that the police got a tip about this particular young man, Shamar?"

Voice of: Shamar's Boss and Relative
"No, in the midst of this officer yelling, I could have smelled the stench of alcohol, so I feel like they both acted poorly. If they had gotten any tip, I don't know that it would have anything to do. I believe that when they patrolled that area, there were tourists, there was another tour guide with another company. I think they saw a little black youth, perhaps from the south side of Belize City and he was an easy target and that is sad, not only in Belize City but across the country, the police take advantage of the ones who they believe they can extort and take advantage of and get away with it. It just happens that he (police) had touch the wrong person."

A release from Shamar Foster's attorney Leslie Mendez notes that he has no criminal record. She adds that "nothing was found on Shamar's person or among his belongings. The only justification provided to him by the officers was that he "looked suspicious." Suspicious of what exactly, we do not know. By all accounts, the suspicion seems to have been rooted in his appearance alone, since, according to the officers, he did not "look like a tour guide." End quote.

Mendez adds, "the incident once again lays bare the chronic deficiencies within the Police Department. Through a dangerously wide interpretation of their power to stop and search, officers misuse this power to operationalize their prejudices and adopt all manner of repressive tactics against ordinary citizens, who simply demand to be treated like actual human beings, deserving of respect, rights and dignity." End quote.

She concludes by saying that Foster will be making an official complaint to the Professional Standards Branch and pursuing all available legal remedies against the individual officers and the Department.

Channel 7


Police Say Incident at Airstrip under Investigation

The Assistant Superintendent of Police, Fitzroy Yearwood, today characterized the actions of the officers as "unprofessional." During the weekly press briefing, he said the Professional Standards Branch is carrying out an investigation. He says the police corporal should be held equally responsible for the confrontation because she was the superior officer on the scene.

ASP Fitzroy Yearwood, Communications Director, Belize Police Department

"To be very honest with you, I have seen the video about six times. It was sent to me. It is very unfortunate that our police officers operated in such an unprofessional manner. I can assure the general public that our commissioner of Police and Minister of Police don't tolerate behaviors like this. The use of so many obscenities, along with his behavior, I think at one point I saw the person's phone or device that they were using fell to the ground. I am certain that the corporal should have taken control of the situation. That is why we promote people as supervisors. When you see an officer going off tangent, you the supervisor should come in as the controlling person where you could have even backed away the constable from that situation so as not to embarrass the department and him any further. Like I saw some comments and people were asking, how would you know how a tour guide looks as so forth? It is not that. The approach from the onset was bad. I think I saw where the person being asked to be searched got up and put his hands over his head which would mean he was cooperating. For our officers to act in an overzealous manner it is uncalled for and the commissioner has made his directives to Professional Standard Branch and I will update you as to which course the Professional Standard Branch takes against these officers."

Channel 5


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Minister Minister Says Rogue, Brutal Cop Will Be Dealt With

A police officer is in hot water after he used excessive force while trying to search an innocent teenager at an airstrip. Yesterday, you heard from 19-year-old Shamar Foster who detained what had happened to him. He added that he believed the officer had been drinking and that he had been targeted for nothing more than "looking suspicious."

Today we asked the Police Minister about yet another textbook case of police brutality - the same kind we've been seeing for decades.

Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries
"Yes, I saw the video and I must say that I was extremely disappointed to see yet another instance of an officer using profane language of actually hitting the individual. I don't think that anything in that scenario as far as I could see nothing warranted that type of behaviour from the officer. Ever since the issue had happened, the loss of young Laddie Gillett, we've been on a sustained campaign, we had our legal team in the police department go from precinct to precinct to advise our officers of the use of force policy that we have in place. But at the same time, we cannot control every single officer's behaviour, but those that do decide to go a frolic on their own and who do decide to behave in such a manner we cannot in any way countenance that. We have already gotten statements as I understand at the professional standard branch from the young man and so we will be taking action against that particular officer."

Shamar Foster's attorney Leslie Mendez says, quote, "the incident once again lays bare the chronic deficiencies within the Police Department. Through a dangerously wide interpretation of their power to stop and search, officers misuse this power to operationalize their prejudices and adopt all manner of repressive tactics against ordinary citizens, who simply demand to be treated like actual human beings, deserving of respect, rights and dignity." End quote.

Channel 7



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