7 News Belize

Two Accused of Beating Camalote Cop
posted (October 19, 2016)

Last night, we told you about the 2 men, charged for badly beating Police Constable Mark Rodriguez. Those men, Camalote residents Belhem Guzman and Sanjay Casey, are at the Belize Central Prison.

They were arraigned  today in Belmopan Magistrate's Court on charges of attempted murder, dangerous harm, use of deadly means of harm, aggravated assault, damage to property and common assault. According to police, the two men wielded a pint bottle and a wooden chair to which they used to savagely beat Constable Rodriguez.

After the arraignment, Superintendent Howell Gillett, in whose jurisdiction the case falls, granted us an interview. He's been to visit Constable Rodriguez, who is regularly assigned to the Belmopan Magistrate's Court.

Today, Gillett told us that the officer remains hospitalized at the KHMH for severe injuries he suffered to the head and face:

Supt. Howell Gillet - OC, Belmopan Police
"What we know so far is that on Sunday the 16th of October PC Rodriguez was in Camalote at a bar and shop when he was accosted by two men for unknown reasons based on the investigation so far. He was severely beaten to the head, to the face and other parts of the body he now lies at the KHMH where he's undergoing treatment; he's in bad condition we're hopeful that he will have a full recovery. It seems that prior to the incident the Belmopan police made an arrest for drug possession and the person who allegedly hurt Mr. Rodriguez believed he was the one who called the police on them and hence the reason for the beat down."

"The incident came to us a surprise especially considering PC Rodriguez; he is one of the most humble persons I've ever worked with. He's very obedient, he's loyal to the organisation and it took us by surprise. We wouldn't seek revenge on anybody, that's not the job of the police, we have to do our job and we did that and nobody could complain that they were ever hurt whilst in police custody and I believe the law will take its course as the case proceeds."

"Expenses at this very initial stage is really but we are getting support from the police department to assist him. I visited with him and he's in bad condition especially in the facial areas I believe he has two area of his both jaws that are broken, two spots on his chin, his two eyes are swollen beyond recognition you don't know him if you don't listen to him. So he was severely beaten."

But, there are 2 sides to every story, and today, we got a chance to speak with the mother and a friend of one of the accused men. They are disputing the account from police that Casey and Guzman assaulted the officer because they thought he called the cops on them. They granted us off-camera interviewers claiming that Constable Rodriguez, who they say was under the influence of alcohol, threatened the lives of one of the men, and it was he who aggressed them first.

Here's how they explained it:

Daniel Ortiz
"Have you spoken to your son, is he maintaining or defending innocence in this particular case?"

Carol Bevans - Mother of Accused
"Yes, yes, yes, he is maintaining innocence inna this case yes."

Reporter
"Do you know where he was at the time when the incident occurred?"

Carol Bevans - Mother of Accused
"Well really and truly I don't know because I haven't spoken with him. Whenever you touch them you can't see them, you can't talk to them, you can't say anything so I don't know; I haven't had a word with him yet so far so I don't know."

Daniel Ortiz
"Is he in your mind capable of what they are accusing him of?"

Carol Bevans - Mother of Accused
"Well I really don't want to it like that you know but my son isn't a person like I can't put my hand there from what my son do to what my son no do but the point is people have to put you through things so that you have to get to that limit there. If they no do you something I believe no wa do something out of the way like that so."

Voice of Friend
"I mi deh right there when the thing happen mommy right and I wa tell you the truth check, the police bax the lee bwai and that's why he got *explicit*. No I the tell you the truth, it real you know, da the policeman bax the lee bwai that's why he get it! That's why they beat up ah!"

Reporter
"But he just walk up to ah and bax ah out of the blue?"

Voice of Friend
"No policeman start to cuss up ah and the policeman tell ah straight and plain he said tomorrow when I come ya me and my crowd wa whip you off; you lucky I no have my gun because I mi wa shot up yo *explicit* he tell ah. And when the policeman bax ah and then he bax ah back too with a hand and da that happen right there."

Daniel Ortiz
"But brethren real talk if a man assaults you with a mad beat down like that."

Voice of Friend
"If I bax you whe you wa do?"

Daniel Ortiz
"With a mad beat down like that?"

Voice of Friend
"Answer me this if I bax you whe you wa do?"

Daniel Ortiz
"I understand but..."

Voice of Friend
"No the tell me about but mien, if I bax you whe you wa do? Whe you wa do? Tell me the truth mien I want you answer this. If I bax you whe you wa do?"

We put that completely contrary version to Superintendent Gillett, and here's how he responded:

Daniel Ortiz
"The question we get if there is this collective frustration. They claim that your officer while under the influence, he's the one who assaulted one of the men and threatened them. Supposedly there is some confrontation and they say that your officer attacked first and with the threat of assault and or death they responded."

Supt. Howell Gillet - OC, Belmopan Police
"Well it all depends on who you are getting the information from. The statements that we have and these were from people who were at the scene at the time, I presume those who are speaking are people who weren't on the scene and the statements that we have in our possession at this time, all the statements reveal that PC Rodriguez was first hit from behind the head and he fell to the ground and it was that the two men allegedly beat up on him causing the injuries that I alluded to earlier."

Daniel Ortiz
"Your officer struck the man in front of him first and that is when the two men retaliated guessing that the hit from the behind came scene and then the mauling afterwards came after that. Is there anything to suggest that these people have a credible account?"

Supt. Howell Gillet - OC, Belmopan Police
"You saw the two men went to court just now and I did not observe any injuries on them so I wouldn't get into a back and forth as to who did what first but the investigation that we have undertaken shows us that yes the police was there, he was there to meet with somebody and it my understanding is based on the statement that PC Rodriguez wasn't drinking. As a matter of fact he had just come off duty at the time of the incident on Sunday so I wouldn't be in a back and forth with any family because I'm sure the people are saying that their family members so I wouldn't be in any back and forth as to who is guilty. This case will go before the court and I believe we have a very good case to present to the court when the time comes."

The two men will be taken back to court on December 16.

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