SAN IGNACIO, Cayo District, Mon. Dec. 4, 2017– A young undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, who had been residing in Belize for only four months, died after being shot by a police officer over the weekend.
On Saturday, police received a verbal report of an armed robbery in Teakettle, in “Arizona”, an area of the village which is predominantly populated by immigrants from other Central American nations.
Just before 2 p.m. on Sunday, police accompanied the complainant to the football field in Arizona, where the alleged robber had been spotted watching a football marathon. When the complainant arrived he was able to pinpoint the man who he said had held him up with a knife, and relieved him of his possessions.
According to police reports, the culprit, identified only as “Jose”, immediately ran when he saw the officers. An officer set chase after him and a distance away from the football field they both fell into barbed wire.
The police report said, “As a result, when the officer fell, his firearm accidentally fired a single shot that hit Jose to his right leg.”
Amandala understands that the bullet that hit the deceased came from a 9mm pistol.
Jose was transported to the Western Regional Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. The bullet reportedly hit one of his main arteries, causing him to bleed to death.
Reliable sources in the Belize Police Department say that the officer involved in the incident is still on active duty.
Some villagers who saw what transpired today told Amandala that they believe that the force used by the police was unjustified. We understand that the deceased was unarmed when he was shot.
Our newspaper was able to get an interview with Elias Cruz, an ex-BDF soldier and businessman who is a member of the Teakettle Village Council. We asked Cruz if the deceased was a problematic person who engaged in criminal activity.
Cruz said that the deceased did not have a steady job, but would assist villagers who would then compensate him for his labor. According to him, Jose may have only fled from the police because he had entered Belize illegally, and had not normalized his status. For 4 months, we are told, he lived in an abandoned vehicle.
Cruz told Amandala that the deceased did not have any family in Belize, and so the villagers embraced him as their own. We are told that the villagers will hold a wake for him tonight, and are making funeral arrangements.
Jose had resided in an abandoned vehicle in the Arizona area of Teakettle.