A special constable and a police officer both were placed on interdiction after court proceedings took place on Monday, February 15th at the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court. Court was presided before Judge Emerson Banner and both men faced charges of Grievous Harm. At the end of the court hearing, Special Constable Juan Carlos Moralez and Police Constable Wayne Trapp both received bail in the sum of $5,000 or a surety of the same amount.
Charges stemmed from an incident which took place on Wednesday, January 14th at the Zaak Bajo Bar located on the lagoon side of Laguna Drive. At the time of the incident, 24-year-old Edgar Castillo was patronizing the bar along with his co-workers. Castillo alleges that police officers stormed into the bar and demanded that it be closed immediately since it was after midnight. One of Castillo’s co-workers began helping the barmaids close the shutters while everyone else was escorted outside to wait. While outside, Castillo claims that he began talking to Special Constable Moralez who he knows and inquired about the threats he was making to the girls at the bar. Castillo explained that both Moralez and Trapp were demanding alcoholic beverages in order to prevent being charged for having the bar open passed the legal hour.
“While talking to Moralez, I just felt someone turn me and hit me on my ribs,” explained Castillo. He states that Trapp was the first one to land a blow followed by Moralez punching him across the face. Castillo’s friends who spoke to The San Pedro Sun state that they were witnesses to the beating which they allege continued even after Castillo had been handcuffed. A cuffed Castillo was placed behind the ATV and transported to the San Pedro Police Department and placed in a holding cell.
While at the Police Department, Castillo expressed his anger at not even being allowed his right of placing a call. The following day, at approximately 2:30 p.m. Castillo was released on bail pending charges. Castillo was charged for Assaulting a Police Officer and Threat to Death.
“Moralez always came to my house and borrowed our golf cart for him to go patrol the island. Two to three times a week he would borrow it and return it without refueling. I know him, I never thought he would do this to me,” explained Castillo. Medical treatment was sought by Castillo with a doctor certifying his wounds as Grievous Harm.
According to one of the employees of Zaak Bajo, Trapp was the officer who hit Castillo on his ribs. “We kept telling them to let Castillo go but they wouldn’t. Then they put the handcuffs on him so we asked that they at least loosen it up but they would not listen to us. They should not mistreat people like that,” she explained.
Both Trapp and Moralez will face Judge Banner once more on April 12th, 2010. For the moment, they have been placed on interdiction meaning they are now placed on half salary and will not be placed on duty. Castillo has sought legal advice and is being represented by Oswald Twist.
According to Officer in Charge Dennis Arnold, both Trapp and Moralez were charged criminally and face those charges before a Magistrate Court. “When the statement was placed, instead of placing them before a tribunal of their peers, they were both charged criminally. Once the court proceeding has been finalized, the verdict will determine whether the two will face a tribunal who will decide their professional fates. I have always said it and I stand by it; my officers are officers of the law. If they do wrong we will make sure that they are punished. We will not tolerate police brutality on the island,” he ended.