SAN IGNACIO–Constable David Griffith of the Punta Gorda Police Formation has been released on bail of $8,000 after he was taken to the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court on Friday, on a charge of manslaughter for the death of prisoner Rasheed Elijio, 18, of Punta Gorda, who was shot and killed during an attempt to escape from police custody.
Griffith was ordered to return to court on October 28.
Police reports are that on May 9, 2013, Brian Garcia, 19, a security guard of Ogaldez Street, Punta Gorda Town, and Rasheed Elijio, 18, a laborer of Ogaldez Street, Punta Gorda Town, were both charged for the crime of carnal knowledge.
They were taken to the Punta Gorda Magistrate’s Court on May 9, 2013, and were remanded to the Belize Central Prison in Hattieville. After being remanded, the two young men were held at the Punta Gorda Police Station, and were to be taken to prison the next morning, May 10.
According to police, at 5:10 a.m. that Friday morning, a police officer and a prison officer were escorting three prisoners to the Belize Central Prison – Lino Ical, convicted of drug trafficking; and Brian Garcia and Rasheed Elijio – and were on their way to board the James Bus to the prison, when Garcia and Elijio, who were handcuffed together, sprinted away and escaped from their custody.
At 8:25 that same morning, May 10, PC David Griffith, who responded to the escaped prisoner alarm, called the Punta Gorda Police Station and informed the diarist that Rasheed Elijio had been captured and was being escorted to the Punta Gorda Town Hospital, as he had been shot by police in the process of capturing him. Elijio was taken to the Punta Gorda Town Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
Punta Gorda Police visited the hospital and saw the body of Rasheed Elijio with gunshot wounds to the left side of his body.
Their investigation revealed that the two escapees were sighted in the Carib Reserve area. Police set chase after the two persons, in the course of which shots were fired which resulted in Elijio being wounded.
There was public outcry against the shooting death of the unarmed man, who, according to the police, was handcuffed. An investigation was carried out, which led to the arrest of PC Griffith 16 months after the incident.
Punta Gorda police said that Griffith has been placed on interdiction and will be tried internally in a police tribunal, which, if Griffith is found guilty, will impose punishment that is additional to what the criminal court will impose.