Of course, all this comes now because the first investigation into
the killing of Shawn Copious was delicately handled by police. So Ben Bou-Nehra
was not charged for manslaughter until almost a year after Copious was killed.
And it’s only then that information started to emerge which showed that
there was a case for murder.
We go back to August of 2006 when 7NEWS received documents
prepared by prosecutor Cheryl Lynn Branker Taitt instructing the police to make
the charge for murder. We revisit that story to find out why she insisted that
murder was the case and what happened when police refused to follow her directive.
Again this story was originally prepared in August of 2006.
[Original Airdate: August 17th, 2006]
Jules Vasquez Reporting,
On July 24th. Chayben Abou-Nehra was charged for manslaughter, for killing this
man, Shawn Copious, in front of Abou-Nehra's home on September 19 of 2005. Abou-Nehra
was bailed and is to re-appear on the first of September. But according to the
DPP's office, he should be behind bars, on remand for murder. That's the express
directive contained in this letter, sent from the DPP's office to the CIB Office
on July 13th, 2006.
Written by Senior Crown Counsel Cheryl Lynn Branker-Taitt, it directs CIB
boss Chester Williams as follows: "you should proceed to arrest and
charge Chayben Abou-Nehra for the offence of murder...."
from Branker-Taitt written between the 16th June and the 13th July explain why
the charge should be murder. She points to: the locations of the two fatal bullet
wounds in Copius's back and buttocks, inconsistent, she says, with someone who
was in a threatening position, she points to the fact that six expended shells
were all found on the street outside Abou-Nehra's property, when he claimed
Copius was in his yard; and that Copious was shot from a distance of greater
than 5 feet, at which distance she says a man with a knife would pose no serious
She found that: "Copius was shot after he exited the yard...and Abou-Nehra
fired two shots at a man who was more than 5 feet away from him and who was
at the time leaving or had already left his premises."
that it was an unjustified shooting, because, "these circumstances
point to the conclusion that at the time of the firing of the fatal shots, there
was no present danger."
In that same letter, Branker-Taitt directed
ASP Williams to get statements from Dr. Hugh Sanchez and force armorer Albert
But by the thirteenth July, those additional statements were either not forthcoming
or lacking and Branker-Taitt wrote again to ASP Williams, "almost a
month has gone and additional work has not yet been completed."
further accuses him of not even trying to get a statement from Dr. Hugh Sanchez.
With that, Branker-Taitt gave her directive to bring murder charges forthwith.
But the police did not, they instead brought the manslaughter charges, which
sent the DPP Kirk Anderson into a rage and forced a standoff with the Police
Department. Meetings were held and letters sent, culminating in this one, on
Monday August 14th. The DPP states to the Commissioner of Police: "you
and the officer in charge of the CIB outrightly refused to comply with my office's
directives that Mr. Abou-Nehra be charged for the offence of murder."
The DPP then points to section 50 of the Constitution which makes him, "the
pre-eminent legal authority in Belize, with respect to the charging and prosecution
of any person."
He then concludes that after the police told him they
would charge for manslaughter and ignore his directive he was, "expecting
written apologies both from yourself as well as from ASP Chester Williams."
The letter notes that none has been forthcoming and Anderson concludes: "I
feel it necessary to insist that such apologies now be provided...since both
yourself and officer Williams were...disrespectful to (my) office as regards
our directive that Mr. Abou-Nehra be charged with murder."
then states, "I will not have any more meetings with you, unless and
until both such apologies have been proffered."
And after all that
Anderson declares: "since you appear to have decided that you will
only comply with this office's advice/directives as and whenever such advice
meets your liking...effective August 15, 2006, this office will no longer be
accepting any files from police..additionally we are...now returning to your
office all case files which are not yet under consideration."
Attached to that is this, a list of 403 cases that the DPP's office returned,
which were there for review and instruction. They run the gamut, form arson
to murder, to kidnapping to carnal knowledge, manslaughter, maim--all now left
to the whim of lady justice.
Of course, because police refused to bring those charges, then DPP
Kirk Anderson famously packed up 403 files and sent them to the Raccoon Street
Police Station. Police sent them back and left them on the sidewalk in front
of the DPP’s office. Today the police were back at the DPP’s office
but they were internal affairs officers, there to get a statement from the DPP
who has said he will make the police investigate, and not bring perjury charges.