Headline — 20 July 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Trigger-happy cop kills teacher

Allyson Major, a school teacher and tour guide, was shot in the head through the rear windshield of his vehicle near the Swing Bridge’s southern approach, amidst pedestrians and other vehicles

BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 17, 2019– Shortly before 4:00 p.m., on Tuesday, July 16, a pickup truck was seen traveling at high speed on Regent Street, and behind the speeding pickup was a police vehicle. It was a high speed police chase in progress, and according to eyewitnesses, gunfire began erupting from the police vehicle.

The pickup then crashed into a city bus that was on Regent Street, navigating the crossing in front of the Swing Bridge, on the southern side, to cross over the bridge’s approach into Regent Street West.

Inside the pickup was Allyson Major, 36, a school teacher and tour guide, and he was slumped over the steering wheel. Major had been shot. Onlookers said that police fired multiple shots as the pickup was speeding away from them.

Before Major could escape, however, the pursuing policemen fired a shot which broke the rear glass of Major’s pickup and hit him in the head.

One eyewitness said that the police officers who were in the vehicle that was involved in the chase, climbed out of the police pickup and went into another police vehicle before they disappeared from the scene, as pedestrians began to converge at the scene of the accident.

At the foot of the Belize City Swing Bridge, the burgundy pickup was stuck to the side of the Belize City bus into which it had crashed when the driver was shot.

Major was removed from his vehicle and put in the pan of a police pickup which took him to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted in a critical condition. He clung to life until Wednesday morning, when he succumbed to his injury.

Major had sustained a gunshot wound in the head from the policemen in the police vehicle from which he was fleeing after they allegedly began firing at him in the vicinity of South Street.

At the time of the shooting, it was not known why Major was fleeing from the police. Neither is it known why police would open fire in the busy downtown area where there were so many people on the streets at the time.

Most members of the public are of the view that the shooting was unjustified, especially since Major was fleeing from the police and they were not in any danger from him.

This morning, police held a press briefing in Belmopan, where senior police officers weighed in on the shooting of Major by their fellow officer.

While police have not charged any of their own for Major’s death, neither have they released the names of the officers involved in the high-speed chase.

In addressing the shooting, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Edward Broaster (Commissioner Chester Williams reportedly was out of the country), told the media that the police “will endeavor to do everything in its power to investigate this matter thoroughly and bring justice wherever it needs to be.” “We’ve been in touch with the wife of Mr. Major, and we’ll be meeting with the family this afternoon to discuss our commitment to ensure that a fair and impartial investigation is conducted into this shooting incident by members of the Belize Police Department,” he said.

Broaster added, “I want to let the public know that we are having two investigations going at the same time: [one] by the commander of the Professional Standards Branch, and [one] by Alejandro Cowo, as it relates to the shooting of Allyson Major.”

Broaster was asked if the police would share any specifics about the chase, and this was Broaster’s response: “Well, there was a pursuit being conducted which culminated on Regent Street and saw the unfortunate shooting incident of Mr. Allyson Major.”

He was asked why the police decided to chase Major.

Broaster replied, “Because they believed that he had suspected illegal drugs. As a matter of fact, I believe one parcel was thrown out of the vehicle and was retrieved by a police team.” Broaster said the suspected illegal drug was “marijuana.”

Broaster was also asked to explain the police’s policy when it came to a high-speed chase in the city, and firing at vehicles on a crowded street.

He said that the police have their pursuit policy and it is very clear.

We don’t fire at fleeing vehicles,” Broaster said. “So, we will be looking at all that, and like I said, we’ll do a thorough and fair investigation to assure the public’s confidence that we’ll deal with whoever needs to be dealt with, and lay charges wherever they need to be laid,” he stated.

Broaster said he had no idea why the police fired at Major.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police also confirmed that no weapons or drugs were found in Major’s vehicle.

This afternoon, the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of National Security, Colonel George Lovell (Retired), met with Allyson Major’s family.

That meeting occurred shortly after Major’s family met with attorney Kareem Musa in the conference room of the Musa and Balderamos law firm on North Front Street.

Upon exiting, Lovell remarked to reporters that the Ministry felt it was necessary to reach out to Major’s family.

Kareem Musa told reporters that Major was ruthlessly gunned down on Albert Street, “unjustifiably so”.  He further stated, “Absolutely nothing warranted police officers who are hired and paid by the state to protect and serve us to be shooting at citizens in motor vehicles. The only scenario that would prompt an officer to respond in that manner is if Allyson or an occupant in his vehicle were firing shots back at the police, and that would result in a shootout. Absolutely nothing of the sort took place.”

Musa went on to explain that if Major had stopped his vehicle and gotten out, he would most likely have been murdered.

“Allyson continued to drive up Regent Street; the family suspects he was trying to take refuge and go to the Queen Street Police Station; he had nothing incriminating on him. All this nonsense about him throwing things out of the vehicle, everybody knows that if you throw something out the vehicle, somebody would have picked it up a mile back.

“Absolutely nothing of the sort—and so they thought that he was taking refuge at the police department. He was on his way there because he was being fired upon. Whether the police thought he was some other person, mistaken identity, whatever the case may be, it is totally unjustified. We now have criminals wearing uniform …

“The only reason that a police officer should shoot at another individual is if they themselves felt under threat. You could have taken down his license plate; you coulda done a check at City Council (to find out) who owns this vehicle; you could have followed that vehicle until it eventually stopped, if that’s what they wanted to do. But they began shooting at him as far back as BTB (the Belize Tourist Board).

“Nothing can warrant shooting an individual in the head! It’s not as though they were shooting at his tires. They were shooting for his head. That is a direct hit through the glass of his vehicle that hit him in his head, and so there is nothing that would warrant that, absolutely nothing. So it’s not even negligence. This was an intentional murder of Allyson Major, that’s what this was … I don’t know the back story to it. Maybe going forward into the future, we might learn more, but nothing warrants killing him yesterday,” Musa said.

Musa added that Major’s family will try to push for the officer who fired at Major to be charged for murder.

Musa said he advised the family that a precedent has been set with the murder of “the young man Sotz” (Hilberto Sotz, 18), who was beaten to death at the Caye Caulker Police Station.

“The likelihood is that the Police Department will charge (him) with manslaughter or the DPP may choose to charge (him) with manslaughter … I don’t see how the police can get away with only charging with manslaughter in this situation,” Musa told the media.

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