Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Cayo District, Sun. July 11, 2021– Today, a number of residents of Benque Viejo Del Carmen are claiming that police’s mishandling of a situation resulted in the drowning of 26-year-old Edwin Brian Isidro. According to those angry residents, police officers incited the events that led to Isidro’s death and also, to some extent, neglected their call of duty as law enforcers.
The residents claim that a joint patrol of police officers and Belize Defence Force soldiers approached a prime swimming area along the Mopan River today, around 11:00 a.m. The officers allegedly fired six warning shots, which startled Isidro, allegedly causing him to fall off a rock and sink underwater. He drowned as a result. Additionally, those who witnessed the incident said that the officers presumed that Isidro was a Guatemalan and, due to those assumptions, were reluctant to assist him. Reports indicate, however, that both the members of the patrol and onlookers dove into the water in an effort to save the Isidro.
It is alleged that Isidro and some other men were attempting to illegally cross the border into Guatemala, as part of an effort to travel to and enter the United States. While his acquaintances were able to abscond, the gunshots startled the Isidro, causing him to fall under water, where he remained for nearly 30 minutes.
According to reports, a bystander, Edgar Naj, who was filming the incident, was also arrested, and it is alleged that he was beaten as well. Some villagers are claiming that the most recent incident is just one of the many instances in which police have entered the village and aggressively handled community members. Some residents of Benque Viejo claim the officers have been abusing their power and mistreating members of the public on a repeated basis.
The Communications Director of the Police Department, however, gave local reporters a different account of what occurred. According to Assistant Superintendent Fitzroy Yearwood, a joint unit consisting of police officers and Belize Defence Force soldiers was patrolling the area around the Belize Water Services plant, which is a key swimming area for Benque Viejo residents.
During the patrol, the officers became suspicious of four young men who were swimming in the area, all of whom ran when they saw the officers. One of the fleeing persons (Isidro), who was dressed in a white shirt and blue boxers, slipped off the rocks on which he was running and was injured. Sometime later, the officers came to the realization that he was drowning, so they, alongside other bystanders, swiftly jumped into the water to render aid.
These efforts were fruitless. When Isidro’s body resurfaced on the other side of the river, he was already dead. Upon examining the body, the officers found a scratch above the victim’s left eye that appeared to be an injury that resulted from his fall.
The Police Department ordered a post-mortem exam on Isidro”s body to ascertain the cause of his death, and the results indicated that he drowned.