BELIZE CITY, Sun. July 18, 2021– When 14-year-old Laddie Gillett was shot dead on Wednesday night on the beach in Placencia, he was in the company of another young man. That young man, 19-year old Thomas Palacio, who like Laddie was pursued by police officers that night and who was reportedly mistreated by the officers after one of them shot Laddie, has since made public statements on social media to dispel false claims about what the young men were doing prior to the shooting.
He emphatically stated in social media comments that were posted over the weekend: “I want this to be heard and understood by everyone. I’ve known Laddie for more than 7 years. This was my little brother my friend. Laddie and I were sober, no smoking no drinking, no guns, no illicit drugs, no loudspeakers, no knives, nothing. We were on the beach eating cake with a friend, we drop the friend home, the friend’s house is a two-minute walk from Chabil Mar, where we were staying. On our [way] back to Chabil Mar, this nonsense happened. This is senseless. I will beg the officers to please not lie. Don’t do it. I was there, and I will continue saying the same exact story because that’s what happened.”
Those comments followed earlier comments that Palacio had posted on Instagram on Thursday, the day after the shooting. In that previous post, he had chronicled the events that led to the death of his close friend.
“The cops and security intercepted us as we were heading back to Chabil Mar resort. The men who caused us to run were dressed in all black, and they didn’t shout ‘police, or security,’ so we took that as a red flag and as someone who wanted to rob or hurt us, so we ran the opposite way. I was instantly hit with a baton on my back and then one shot was fired. Laddie fell instantly,” Thomas Palacio wrote on his Instagram page on Thursday.
He then described what occurred after the shooting, which he bluntly referred to as “senseless murder”.
“I fell to my knees when I heard the shot, then I was kicked up, hit several times, and held at gunpoint as these dirty cops stood over me while I was on my back. Laddie was less than 20 feet away from me. Not moving at all. They checked his pulse right there, and then they all agreed that ‘bwai di man gaan’, “di man get shot bwai’. They then returned their focus on me saying ‘weh we a do with he now’ as the gun hovered inches above my face, they then kicked me up again and roughed me up. I asked if Laddie was alright, and nobody gave me a direct answer, just ‘shet up lee bwai’ and stuff like that,” Palacio recounted.
It appears that by the time all of this took place, Laddie had long passed. According to Palacio, the police continued to menace him for at least 10 minutes before aid was rendered to his young friend.
“They had us there for at least 10 minutes. Laddie was left there for 10 minutes. Before they even bothered to start doing anything ‘right’.” Palacio said.
He admitted that his memories of the incident are fragmented, since he was still in shock because of the whole ordeal.
Palacio went on to make an even more chilling statement — that he believes that he would have been murdered, as the sole witness of the fatal shooting, if he had not told the officers that their family was waiting for them a short distance away. He told local media that he was beaten by police and detained at the police station, and was not given the opportunity to contact anyone.
He added that at no time did the officers (about six officers in total, he estimated) declare themselves to be police officers or security guards.
“Laddie was my brother, and I loved that youth very much, always will, see u in heaven little bro,” Palacio wrote at the end of his Instagram post.