Teenaged Tour Guide Harassed By Police Says His Constitutional Rights were Violated

And in other news, a 19-year-old tour guide and student had a frightening and embarrassing encounter last April when two cops brutalized him while he was waiting to catch a flight. Shamar Foster was reportedly slapped twice after he pulled out his phone to record an unlawful search. All this happened in front of the tourists he was supposed to take to Ambergris Caye.

Since then, Foster has been trying to get information about his case, but his attorney Leslie Mendez says the department has not been forthcoming. And according to Mendez, they were informed through informal channels that the officer had pleaded guilty in internal proceedings, but Foster has been left out of the matter completely.

Due to what she calls the lack of transparency and impartiality, Foster and Mendez, have turned to the courts for relief. Courtney Menzies spoke with her via Zoom today and has this story.

A little over 1 year ago, 20-year-old Shamar Foster was a victim of police abuse after he was roughed up at the municipal airstrip. Foster is a tour guide who was being accompanied by 18 tourists on a trip to San Pedro when he was unlawfully searched by the officers.

Foster and his attorney, Leslie Mendez, have since tried to settle, but since they have received no information about the status of this case, they've filed a claim saying his constitutional rights have been breached.

Leslie Mendez, Attorney
"The claim has 2 aspects. It looks at the search and then it also looks at the disciplinary proceedings. On one hand what we are doing is that we are seeking to have the court provide guidance and to determine what is the scope of the right of the citizen to report police officers in the conduct of their duties. That is part of the claim that looks strictly at the search and what happened at the municipal airport. We seek for the court to make a determination with respect to whether constitutional rights were breached, but we area also seeking to have the court explore the issue of the right of our citizens to record the police in their conduct of their duties and that the constitutional right to freedom of expression which we say includes as well the freedom to gather information on only publish and the right to protection of the law."

"The second dimension of the claim looks at what the process before the professional standard branch is and we are seeking the court to explore what the nature of this process is and what we say is that in the context particularly when this is one of the few other means that citizens have to make complaints for police misconduct. In addition to that fact that Shamar, what we say is that is not meaningful involve and that information was not forthcoming, that, that process does not meet constitutional muster of impartiality of the process and of independence."

And one of the issues Mendez says they have with this case - and other cases of excessive force - is cops investigating cops.

Still, she says that it's important that persons who face similar situations attempt to get justice.

Leslie Mendez, Attorney
"From our view it really is the police policing the police when it comes to claims of misconduct and what we are saying is that considering that this is one of the few mechanisms that exists for citizens to be able to make a complaint with respect to police misconduct. This really shouldn't be the case and what we should be requiring of a process like this is one that meets the standards of impartiality, once that meets the standards of independence so that we can ensure that in fact there is public trust and that there are fairness in the process. I think that would apply to all government departments and everybody that has a duty to the public to try to pursue their claim to try to get to some resolution, because I think that that functions as a mechanism by which we continue to hold people accountable."

The matter has since been adjourned to July 5th.

Channel 7