Latest — 03 August 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Cop arraigned for Allyson Major’s shooting death

Police continue to protect Cpl. Martinez from media cameras

BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 31, 2019– The reality that the police will always protect their own was on full display at the Belize City Magistrate’s Court this morning. Their mission to bar the media from capturing the image of the corporal charged with manslaughter by negligence for allegedly firing the bullet that ended the life of Allyson Major, Jr., on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 16, at the foot of the Belize City Swing Bridge, was executed with cold precision.

When Corporal Kent Martinez arrived at the Belize City Magistrate’s Court this morning, he was sandwiched between two plainclothes officers from the Crimes Investigation Branch. The trio arrived from the southern side of the sprawling court building. Reporters and television cameramen were waiting on the Treasury Lane side of the building, which lies to the north.

In the end, capturing an image of Corporal Martinez was thoroughly frustrated by the police. Martinez himself, however, unwittingly aided the media through his own digital footprints—the pictures of himself that were open on his Facebook page.

So, after 15 days, the man who allegedly fired the fatal shot that killed Allyson Major was finally charged by authorities with manslaughter by negligence. As the law now stands, under the Criminal Code, manslaughter by negligence carries a prison sentence of five years. Apart from the Criminal Code, the Court of Appeal also lays down case law principle of incarceration on the matter of discharging a firearm recklessly in the 2005 Director of Prosecutions appeal in the Sherwood Wade case.

Corporal Martinez appeared before Magistrate Michelle Trapp, who arraigned him on the charge. There was no objection to bail from court prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent Egbert Castillo. Bail was offered to Corporal Martinez in the sum of $15,000, plus two sureties of $7,500 each.

The bail condition imposed by Magistrate Trapp is that Corporal Martinez is to sign in at the Queen Street Police Station every Wednesday, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. He was also ordered to surrender his travel documents to the court and is not to leave the country without the permission of the court.

In court papers, police said that a burgundy double-color van was seen on George Street and police began following the van, and observed the driver throwing some packages out as the Mobile Interdiction Team began chasing it.

Shots were fired by the police and when the van came to a stop a few feet away from the Belize City Swing Bridge, they observed Allyson Major inside and he was bleeding from the back of his head. Police said Major was transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, but died the following day, Wednesday, July 17.

All the handguns which were in the possession of the officers who were in the police vehicle were retrieved and taken to the National Forensic and Science Service, where it was discovered that the weapon which fired the bullet that hit Major was issued to Corporal Martinez.

Martinez turned himself in along with his attorney, and was read his constitutional rights and charged with manslaughter by negligence, a couple weeks after the crime.

At the arraignment, Corporal Martinez was represented by attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley.

In addressing the issue of the charge of manslaughter by negligence, Bradley said: “There is a problem in Belize in relation to these matters. I have heard from yesterday when word got out that the charge would be a relatively minor charge that we need to take some things into account. So let me say to you that the public will not be satisfied with what they have heard. It is my understanding from the news that the police sent the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions Office, so they will say that they are acting on legal advice.

“It is possible that from the investigation, there is not enough evidence to say that this corporal intentionally killed Allyson Major, a young man, father, teacher and husband who has lost his life senselessly.

“In this case, the police are responsible. The police in Belize are either not training the officers enough, or they have no strict protocol — when to use force, when to fire your gun, when to pull out your firearm. We just lost a life, and they still can’t tell us, what is the proper procedure for officers to, one, pull out their gun, and two, to use it. Now how do you use a gun on somebody who is driving away from you…there is no evidence that he [Major] killed anybody or caused any damage to anybody…[the man went] to go and buy some weed.”

 “When things like that happen, the decent thing to do in our society is that the authorities are to publicly apologize for the loss of life. They should not put the family through any lengthy court proceedings…pay compensation to the family…for losing a father and a husband. That is the proper, decent thing to do,” Bradley pointed out.

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Deshawn Swasey

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