Parallel shooting deaths of senior police officers; different charges levied
Monday, June 7th, 2021
Over the past three years, two police officers have allegedly been accidentally killed with their own service pistols in San Pedro Town. Both were fatally shot after midnight while socializing. One incident took place in January 2019 involving Corporal Alfonso Guy, and recently Police Superintendent Henry Jemmott was shot dead with his service weapon. While both incidents seem to be parallel, the repercussions for the accused have been different, with one remanded for murder while the other shooter was charged with the lesser crime; Manslaughter by Negligence.
Guy’s, 51, was fatally shot in the early hours of January 11, 2019, in his apartment in the San Juan Area of San Pedro. According to then Officer in Charge on the island Superintendent Reymundo Reyes, Alfonso was socializing with a gentleman named Danilo Villatoro. Reyes told the media that Villatoro had been playing with Guy’s issued service gun when he allegedly pulled the trigger. Guy received a gunshot to his chest. Villatoro reportedly panicked, took the weapon, and ran away but was later apprehended by police. Reyes said Villatoro confessed he shot Guy by accident. Guy succumbed to his injury while being transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City.
Three days later, Villatoro was arraigned for Murder at the Belize City Magistrate Court. He continues to serve time at the Kolbe Foundation-Belize Central Prison in Hattieville.
Lord Ashcroft daughter-in-law involved in shooting death of top cop
The second cop shot dead with his own service weapon took place coincidentally after midnight as well. Still, this incident sent shockwaves beyond Belize’s borders and attracted the attention of the international press. Jasmine Hartin, the mother of two and partner of Andrew Ashcroft, son of well-known British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, is at the Belize Central Prison for the shooting death of Superintendent 42-year-old Henry Jemmott. The pair were socializing at a pier in front of a beach resort south of downtown San Pedro in the early hours of May 28th when she accidentally shot Jemmott in the head with his issued service pistol.
According to reports, Hartin and Jemmott were having drinks on the pier. Jemmott allegedly was teaching Hartin how to load and unload the gun. When she had enough practice, Jemmott supposedly took the bullets and placed them next to him. Hartin reportedly placed the weapon with the magazine clipped inside next to her.
Jemmott then said his shoulder was sore, and Hartin began giving him a massage. He asked her to hand him the magazine to reload it. According to unofficial reports, as she tried to get it out, the gun suddenly went off. Apparently, they both forgot that a bullet was still in the chamber. Jemmott was shot behind his right ear. Hartin claimed his body fell back onto her, splattering her with blood, and as she tried to get Jemmott’s body off her, it fell into the sea.
A nearby security guard responded to the sound of a gunshot and observed Hartin pacing back and forth on the pier. Her behavior was described as hysterical and disoriented. Police were called, and she was taken to the San Pedro Police Station. Following the conclusion of the investigation, the office of the Director of Public Prosecution was consulted on what charges to levy. On Monday, May 31st, to the surprise of many, Hartin was charged with the lesser charge of Manslaughter by Negligence. Her attorney Godfrey Smith attempted to get bail for her, but it was denied. The following day, she was transported off the island to the Belize Central Prison. On Wednesday, June 2nd, her attorney filed a bail petition to the Supreme Court in Belize City in another attempt to cut short time her time at Central Prison, but bail was once again denied. The court did so because she could be a flight risk, given her Canadian nationality.
On Wednesday, June 9th in Belize City, Hartin’s attorney will, for the third time, attempt to get her out with a Supreme Court bail.
Different charges; same scenario
Many islanders joined Jemmott’s family in the disappointing lesser charge. The incident is similar to Guy’s, yet Villatoro was treated differently and charged with Murder. Hartin’s lesser charge is a bailable offense. The sentiment from the public is that Hartin’s association with the rich, powerful and influential Ashcroft family has garnered special considerations. While Villatoro was reportedly a bartender working at a beach resort north of San Pedro.
Commissioner of Police Chester (ComPol) Williams shared with the media the results of Jemmott’s post mortem. The examination revealed that Jemmott’s injury to his head is not considered suicide, as previously suggested. The manner of death is homicide, he said. “Homicide simply means the killing of a human being by another human being. The issue is that whether it is murder or manslaughter. Murder is the intentional killing of a human being by unlawful harm,” Williams explained. He added that for murder, it must be proven that such was the intent.
“Manslaughter, on the other hand, is where you actually kill someone, but you have some partial excuse or partial defense. In law, that will reduce the murder to manslaughter,” said Williams. When asked as to why she was not charged for murder, the investigation apparently did not find enough evidence for such charge. ComPol added that Hartin’s social stature should not be affected by how she is treated and should not receive unique treatments. He said that police are dealing with her in the same manner as with any ordinary person.
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