Officer in charge may face disciplinary action in police brutality case

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 2            January 10, 2008

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Ryan Requena, victim of police brutality.

A new Officer in Charge will be appointed to take the place of current Officer in Charge Humberto Patt.

A formal complaint has been made against Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Officer in Charge of the San Pedro Police Department Humberto Patt and five officers attached to the island department. Ryan Requena, 24 year old chef of San Pedro Town alleged that on the night of January 31st, 2007, officers raided his home located in the San Pedrito Area of San Pedro Town. “They planted drugs on me,” he accused when officers found twenty three grams of suspected cannabis in his residence. Requena and his live in girlfriend were taken to the San Pedro Police Department for questioning. Both individuals were arrested and charged for drug possession.

    Both individuals were granted a $1,000 bail, which they met; however Requena alleges that, under the pretenses of charging him for yet another offense, officers kept him locked up. “They told me that they were going to charge me for something else,” he told The San Pedro Sun on Tuesday via a telephone interview. “The other charge never arrived.”

    While in police custody and awaiting his second charge, Requena claims that ASP Patt, along with five other officers, consisting of both constables and corporals, “beat him up.” “They used their batons, rubber hose, and even pepper spray to torture me for close to three hours,” claimed the victim. According to Requena it wasn’t until his father-in-law came to the police department inquiring about the second charge that he was released from police custody.

    On January 2nd, 2008, Requena visited the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where the lacerations and bruises found on his body were classified as wounding. However, he visited a second doctor, Dr. Rene Godoy who classified the wounds as grievous harm.

    Assistant Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie headed the Internal Affairs case against the six officers. On late Tuesday night, he confirmed to The San Pedro Sun that his investigations into the case had been completed. Earlier that day, he had made his findings known and recommendations where posed to Commissioner of Police Gerald Westby. He, in turn, decided to act decisively in the case.

    The first recommendation made was to submit orders to the Security Services Commission which will place ASP Patt on interdiction, removed from active duty, and made to face disciplinary charges. Via a telephone interview, Whylie was asked, “Since ASP Patt will be reprimanded because of your findings, did your investigation reveal that he had a part in the actual beating of Requena or did he simply order the beating?” “From what our investigations indicated he took part in the beating of Requnea,” he responded. When asked whether San Pedro will now have a new Officer in Charge, Whylie exclaimed, “Most definitely!”

    As for the other five officers, they will also be placed on interdiction from duty and will also face disciplinary charges. Senior officers will arrive on the island next week when a new Officer in Charge will be appointed.

    Among other recommendations, the drug possession charges against both Requena and live-in girlfriend will very likely be dropped, commented Whylie. As to what might have sparked the brutality, Whylie ended that it stemmed from a disagreement Requena and Patt had had on the night of December 25th.

    Assistant Superintendent Patt began his police career in 1997 when he graduated from the Belize Police Academy. After graduation he was transferred to the Crimes Investigation Branch as an Officer Cadets in Belize City. He was later transferred to Cayo West and now 10 years later he is an Assistant Superintendent who became the Commander at the San Pedro Police Department in early April.
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