SAN IGNACIO–The prospect of justice looks bleak for a Unitedville teenager who probably would have died if he had not been rushed to the San Ignacio Hospital’s Emergency Ward by a Good Samaritan after he was allegedly blasted in the back by a police officer in late May 2014, for no apparent reason.
The four cops who were allegedly involved in the shooting were later made to face criminal charges in mid-June; however, Amandala understands that the officers, all attached to the San Ignacio Police Formation, were freed of all charges at the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, October 30.
Police have refused to provide information in respect of a report that the officers’ criminal case could not proceed because the original investigation file was not presented in court at the time it was required.
According to information received by Amandala, the prosecutor could not convince the magistrate that the file would be delivered in time for the next court date, and so the case was thrown out for want of prosecution.
The origins of the case can be traced back to the early morning hours of Monday, May 26, when Elston Arnold, 19, and three of his cousins were returning home from a wake in Ontario, a nearby village.
The youths had just gotten off a church bus about a mile from Arnold’s home when a police mobile from San Ignacio drove up and the officers proceeded to conduct a search on the young men.
It was at that time that one of Arnold’s cousins reportedly exchanged words with the officers, who then allegedly started to beat him (the cousin).
Arnold reported that he then made an attempt to leave the scene, but one of the officers cocked his service 12-gauge pump action shotgun and shot him in the back.
What’s worse is that the officers allegedly left Arnold on the side of the road to fend for himself after he was shot, and it was a passing justice of the peace who had to rush him to the hospital.
In the wake of the shooting, Arnold maintained that the attack was unprovoked, and that the officer had no reason to use deadly force against him, especially since he wasn’t resisting arrest or assaulting the officer in any way, and had no weapon on him.
After doing their initial investigation, which established that the policemen were liable to be indicted for the incident, police charged the four officers — Constable Jesus Marroquin, 31; Constable Maxwell Valerio, 24; Corporal Ricky Valencia, 33; and Special Constable Ernesto Budna, 29 — jointly with harm.
Marroquin, the officer who is believed to have pulled the trigger, was additionally charged with attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and wounding.
Police said that Marroquin and Valencia were also both brought up on disciplinary charges internally.
The San Ignacio Police High Command, however, later divulged to the media that they were experiencing difficulty in getting the accused cops to cooperate with investigators, after which it was revealed that they also faced a challenge in getting the six shotgun pellets that were removed from Arnold’s back, which were scheduled to be sent to the National Forensic Sciences Service for ballistics testing, because, as we understand it, shortly after the surgery was conducted, the nurse who had secured them under lock and key at the hospital went on vacation.
On June 13, all four of the accused officers were taken to court after being subjected to a group identification parade.
Police had reported that they were “cautiously” dealing with the matter so as to properly investigate and dispel the notion that a cover-up was being done.
Nevertheless, to hardly anyone’s surprise, the case seems to have fallen apart, since we were reliably informed that the police prosecutor who was handling the case could not provide the court with the evidence against the four officers.
Deputy Commander of the San Ignacio Police Station, Inspector Reymundo Reyes, told the media yesterday that discussions are ongoing with the DPP’s Office to seek an instruction to possibly re-arrest the four police officers.