BELMOPAN, Sat. July 17, 2021– Today, PC Kareem Martinez was arraigned inside the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court on one count of manslaughter for the death of 14-year-old Laddie Gillett. He was granted bail of $8,000 and was released until his next court date on October 18, 2021.
PC Martinez has been in police custody since the shooting death of the teenager, which took place on Wednesday night on a Placencia beach. During his time in detention, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) considered the facts of the case and determined what charge would be brought against Martinez for the teen’s death: manslaughter by negligence.
After the DPP issued a directive to the police, Martinez was arrested, charged, arraigned, and released from the custody of law enforcement, much to the dismay of the victim’s family and the wider public, who have been clamoring for a charge of murder to be imposed.
The family of Laddie, both biological and adoptive, are calling for justice for young Laddie, and have said that the manslaughter charge is a “slap in the face.”
When interviewed by the media, Emil Bradley, Laddie’s adoptive father, indicated that he believes that the officer acted intentionally and that the charge handed down does not sufficiently address the gravity of Martinez’s actions. “All I can say is that it is not what we expected. You know, I mean, we’ve asked, we waited, we wanted justice. I mean, manslaughter, I just don’t see it as a charge fit, I mean, his actions. I don’t from a trained body and disciplined body, and you are allowed to carry a firearm, you should have some level of training to know from the time pick up a firearm and point it at somebody and you pull the trigger, you could kill this person; this is not a toy. So from the time you pick up this gun and aim at this kid and pull the trigger, that was intentional,” he said.
“If he had tripped and it gone off, it shot him, that different. I mean, are you trained, using justifiable force of harm — where was that? If ih mi shoot ah from his bottom downwards, you could have said he wasn’t intended to kill him, but just by pulling it in his back, it’s unacceptable, and den ya da the thing weh mek people get wrathed and get out of hands and see things differently. I try keep mi calm and everything together from right now, but continue on like this no,” Bradley further said.
Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams said the officer in question used unreasonable lethal force when he fired the shot that caused the death of Laddie. He had indicated that his department would do all in its power to bring the perpetrator to justice, but also said that he would follow the directives of the DPP.
Martinez is being represented by attorney-at-law Hurl Hamilton, who has called for his client to be given the benefit of due process under the law.
“Everybody is entitled to due process; everybody is innocent until proven guilty under the Belize Constitution. Let’s give the process a chance. The court will decide whether Mr. Martinez is guilty or not guilty, but let us not jump to conclusions based on what we are hearing or what we have known so far. Give the process a chance, and he will have his date at court and he will have to answer to this charge,” he said.
While PC Martinez was granted bail, no plea was taken from him at the time of his arraignment, because of the indictable nature of the offense.