Alleged police brutality lands popular Caye Caulker Tour Guide in critical condition
Friday, February 8th, 2013
The Professional Standard Branch Unit of the Police Department has launched an internal investigation into an alleged case of police brutality on the island of Caye Caulker. Well-known tour guide, Bert Nicholas, also known as “Ras Creek”, remains in a critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH). It is alleged that his injuries came about after a January 11th confrontation with police that resulted in several head injuries on Nicholas. The injuries went unnoticed until Thursday, January 31st when he began complaining of severe headaches.
His common law wife Ann Sanson told The San Pedro Sun that Nicholas was onboard his boat, Heritage Cruze 2 and was brought in from the Caye Caulker Shark Ray Channel to a dock on the island by officers. Sanson went on to say that when Nicholas and his tourists were brought to the dock, a confrontation with members of Tourism Police Unit erupted, eventually leading to the police executing a beating on Nicholas. “He took out a tour around the island because it was one of the tourist’s birthday…The tourism police spotted them on the front dock and that is when he was beaten and taken to jail. He was beaten to the head and lips. He stayed two days in jail and then the police officers decided to take him to court on Tuesday (January 15th). He was not taken to a medical doctor he was just taken to jail… He never did tell me he was hit on his head. It was until Wednesday (January 30th) that he began complaining of a bad headache and that is when he said he was hit on the head,” said Sanson. She explained that the following day Nicholas’ headache got worse to the point that he became unconscious and by Saturday he had to be airlifted to Belize City for medical attention.
According to several residents on Caye Caulker, the tourists on board the vessel managed to capture the incident on their electronic gadgets but were all taken to the Police station, where they were forced to delete the recordings. Sanson explained that so far, Nicholas has undergone surgery to try and remove a blood clot that had been developing in his head for the past two weeks. “Doctor Cervantes, without knowing the story, was able to date that the blood was about two weeks old and he had to be taken for surgery where now he remains in the intensive care unit, in a comatose state,” detailed Sanson on Friday, February 1st. She explained that her common-law husband was making very small improvements. On Wednesday, February 6th, the improvements were such that he regained consciousness and continues to improve. While he is unable to consume solid foods, he is responding to his environment.
According to Sanson, no police official has spoken to Nicholas’ family members. Nicholas’ family is demanding an investigation, as well as the necessary disciplinary actions on the police responsible. “That should never happen. The police should never hit anyone because they should be showing the example. If they have trouble with somebody, they should handcuff the person and bring them under control. They don’t have to beat anyone, it makes no sense. They should be showing the good way in which people should behave. We want to see some justice because it is not right,” emphasized Sanson. According to the family, they are not only faced with a critical family member but a medical bill that was unnecessary and mounting.
Meanwhile the Officer Commanding Caye Caulker Police Station Sergeant Delfine Zuniga confirmed that indeed Nicholas was detained and charged and eventually taken to court, but could not say under what circumstances. However Sergeant Zuniga said that an investigation into the matter has started as of Tuesday February 4th. He explained that the officers on duty have been asked to submit a duty report and a statement as to what transpired the day in question. The Officer Commanding the Coastal Executive Unite Superintendent of Police Luis Castellanos indicated that the Professional Standard Branch of the Police Department has initiated an internal police investigation into the incident and made it clear that any officer found guilty of wrongdoings will be dealt with. The officer accused, identified only as Tourism Police Constable King, remains on active duty. Castellanos explained that he will remain on duty until a directive from the Commissioner of Police indicates otherwise.