Headline — 18 May 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Trigger-happy cop shoots man “for nothing”

Vince Martinez said that the cop shot him in the groin with a riot pump-action 12-gauge shotgun; he was released without charge

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 16, 2019– A Belize City man who is employed by the Government of Belize visited our newsroom and told us that a police officer shot him in the area of his groin for no reason. The shooting occurred inside his Far West Street home on Sunday, May 12.

Vince Martinez was carrying the bloody pair of pants he was wearing when the incident occurred, as well as a police/medico legal form that was filled out by a doctor who classified his injury as harm.

Martinez, 52, a driver for the Department of Human Services, told us that he was out socializing with some friends by the “fish bridge” on Vernon Street when they got word about a shooting incident that had occurred on Albert Street.

Following the shooting, Martinez said, he decided that he would head home. Martinez said that when he got home he got into an argument with his wife.

“If I can’t have any say in this house, might as well I move out,” Martinez recalled telling his wife as he began packing some of his things in their room.

Martinez said his wife left the house and when she returned, she was accompanied by two police officers.

“One of the policemen came to my room door and told me to come out of the room,” Martinez said.

“Boss, you could come right in, I am just packing some clothes to leave,” Martinez recalled telling the policeman who had ordered him to come out of the room.

Martinez said he put both hands on top of his head as the policeman entered his room.

“He grabbed me by my pants’ waist and pulled me into the living room, and then he slapped me in the face. I asked him, ‘why are you treating me this kind of way? I don’t know what they told you about me, ’” said Martinez.

Martinez said the policeman barked out to him. “I said turn against the wall!”

We asked Martinez where his wife was at the time, “She was standing right there, along with my 11-year-old son,” Martinez said.

“Officer, you noh need fu deh treat me like this,” Martinez said he told the officer, who had again ordered him to turn and face the wall.

Martinez said he didn’t turn, and the next thing he heard was a loud bang and he saw the officer’s gun in his hand.

“I felt a burning sensation and when I looked down, I saw smoke coming out of my pants from a big hole,” Martinez said.

“My wife then said to the police man who had just shot him, ‘Officer, I bring you here to talk to my husband, not to shoot him,’” Martinez said.

Martinez said he was stunned that he had just been shot, and he asked the officer why he had shot him.

Martinez said the officer told him, “I said turn against the wall, otherwise I wahn shoot yu again.”

“Well might as well you kill me, because you done shoot me fu nothing,” Martinez said he responded.

Martinez said he decided to turn against the wall as the officer had ordered him, and the officer placed a handcuff on him, took him outside and threw him in the police vehicle.

“I asked him if they were going to take me to the hospital, but the officer who had just shot me told me to shut up,” Martinez said.

Martinez said his wife and son got into the police vehicle and they drove them to Precinct One, located on Euphrates Avenue.

Martinez said when they were inside the precinct the officer, whose name he did not know, approached him and asked him his name.

“I told him, ‘I don’t want to speak to you, because you done chance me fu nothing,’” said Martinez.

“I pleaded with them to take me to the hospital, but instead they took me to Queen Street Police Station”, Martinez further claimed.

Martinez told us that when they arrived at the police’s Domestic Violence Unit, he, still in handcuffs, explained that the police officer asked his wife if he had hit her, and she replied that he had not.

“They asked her if she wanted to press charges against me, but she replied no,” Martinez said.

Martinez’s wife told the police officers at the Domestic Violence Unit that he (Martinez) had behaved aggressively toward her, and that was why she went to the police.

There was a lot of back and forth between himself, his wife and the police, Martinez said.

“It got to the point that I told the officers that my pants was starting to get messed up with blood,” said Martinez.

 “If you notice, when I first came in here, my pants was not messed up like this,” Martinez said he told the police officers, as he again pleaded with them to take him to the hospital.

We asked Martinez if he was charged with any offense, and he replied, “I was never charged with anything.”

Eventually, Martinez was released without being charged with any offense. Martinez said that when the police eventually offered to take him to the hospital, he declined their offer, so they took him back to his house and he got his motorcycle and went to the hospital on his own.

Martinez said the doctor at the hospital took out about 9 rubber pellets from his his groin area. He was apparently shot with a riot pump-action 12-gauge shotgun.

We spoke with Shelmadine Martinez, 58, Vince Martinez’s wife, who corroborated the sequence of events her husband had narrated to us. Mrs. Martinez said that she only called for the police because her husband was behaving aggressively toward her and she did not want the situation to escalate.

Mrs. Martinez said that at one point, when her husband was being transported in the pan of the police pickup truck, she had to intervene, telling one of the police officers that her husband was not an animal, because the officer had kicked him after telling him to “straighten out his foot”.

We made several attempts to speak to someone from the Police’s Professional Standard Branch to get the police’s side of the story, but we were unsuccessful. We were able to speak to the Police Press Officer, Corporal Hortense Hernandez, who told us that she did not know about the incident, but would look into it and get back to us. Up to press time, however, we have not heard from Hernandez.

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