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COMPOL: WPC Trapp won’t be criminally charged

GeneralCOMPOL: WPC Trapp won't be criminally charged

While witness statements and photos seem to indicate that WPC Alicia Trapp, not Minister Julius Espat, was the aggressor during their Teakettle altercation, the Commissioner of Police says Hon. Espat is unlikely to press charges for now.

By Khaila Gentle

BELIZE CITY, Wed. June 15, 2022

Police Constable Alicia Trapp, who last week brought allegations of verbal and physical assault against Minister of Infrastructure and Development Hon. Julius Espat following a confrontation at the Teakettle village elections, is not expected to be charged with assault, according to Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams. On Monday, the Police Commissioner issued a letter to Trapp’s attorney, Orson “OJ” Elrington, in which he stated that the allegations made by Trapp in her police report are contradicted by witness statements and pictures taken during the altercation and that she could be arrested and charged with Common Assault. In speaking with local reporters on Tuesday, however, Commissioner Williams explained that Minister Julius Espat does not wish to take court action against the police constable.

“…based on that, she will not be charged criminally as outlined in the letter to her attorney yesterday. I think what Mr. Espat is hoping for is that her and her attorney retract their statement, and based on that then he will determine if he will proceed with the matter before the court,” said Commissioner Williams.

Last week, Minister Espat’s legal representative, Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck, issued a letter to WPC Trapp and her attorney demanding an apology and a full retraction of her statement, termed “libelous” and “false”. 

Trapp had accused Minister Espat, via a Facebook Live video, of insulting her and pointing his finger in her face—allegedly because he was angered by her presence at the elections as a UDP supporter. The evidence gathered by police over the past week, however, suggests that Trapp, not Espat, was the aggressor. This new development comes on the heels of an investigation of WPC Trapp by the Professional Standards Branch, initiated after it was suggested that she had breached the Police Department’s social media policy when she made her remarks on the Facebook video.

When asked whether an imbalance of power—a government minister versus a police officer—could have played a part in influencing the witness statements that implicate Trapp, Commissioner Williams said that he doubts any of the witnesses were fearful when giving their statements.

“As a matter of fact, many of them were independent-minded people who were out there. So, I do not ascribe to the fact that people said what they said because they fear retribution from the minister. I don’t think so,” he stated.

The Commissioner of Police further stated that WPC Trapp put herself in the position she is now in.

“If you step into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson, you expect to get knocked the hell out. And you cannot expect that you will be pet and powdered there. She stepped into the political arena and she had an exchange of words with the minister,” he stated.

The COMPOL had expressed similar sentiments last week. The United Democratic Party, on the other hand, has criticized the Police Commissioner, and both the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow, and the UDP chairman, Michael Peyrefitte, expressed support for WPC Trapp during a UDP press conference this week.

“I have never seen, in my legal time, a person goes to the police station and makes a complaint, that person’s attorney is then written to by the Commissioner of Police who acts as a defense attorney for the person who is being complained against, judge, and jury and declared the man not guilty,” said Peyrefitte.

WPC Trapp, who had previously been assigned to work at Cabinet meetings as part of the security detail, has reportedly been removed from that post by the Commander of the Belmopan Police Station since the Teakettle incident.

Her lawyer has also indicated that it is possible that she might pursue civil legal action against Minister Espat.

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