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Three civilian deaths pose challenge for Police Commissioner

The Belize Police Department still has no answers for the families of the three men who died while in police custody between last April and May 2013. 

Speaking at the police press briefing on Monday, Commissioner of Police Allan Whylie said he was unable to say when those investigations will be completed.

Those investigations are “challenging as the DPP had indicated,” Whylie told Reporter.

In July, the Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl-Lynn Vidal   passed the three files over to the Commissioner of Police, after noting  a lack of progress on the part of police investigators  who apparently frustrated her office.

Vidal, in a statement that preceded the handing over of the files, said:

“At the moment and for the past months, my Office has been grappling with three investigations in which we are of the view that the police have acted improperly, both during the incidents and during the investigations.”

Commissioner Whylie acknowledged receiving the files, adding, “I have read those files and have discussed them with the head of National Crimes. He has read those files and come up with a number of work-things to ask of police officers as well as civilian witnesses.”

He said that when that process is completed, those files will be handed back to the DPP, who will then review and decide where we go from there.

Whylie, however, said he had no time frame when the files would  be returned.

“Investigations are not an overnight process,” he said. “We are dealing with it.”

The three cases involve the deaths of Kevin “Buco-T” Kelly, Ryan Lozano and Rasheed Elijio.

Kevin Kelly, 38, a resident of Belize City and father of three, lost his life while he was in  the custody of the San Pedro Police  on April 27, 2012.

At the time of his death, the Commissioner of Police had ordered a criminal investigation and a police internal investigation.

Police reported that Kelly had broken his neck when he attempted to escape from them by scaling a high fence.

At the time of the incident, Kelly was a suspect in a robbery .When he attempted to flee from police, shots were fired at him before he was eventually apprehended.

When Kelly was found not breathing in his cell, the police called San Pedro doctor Javier Zuniga, who theorized that his death could have been the result of severe head or neck injuries.

A postmortem examination performed by Police Pathologist Dr. Mario Estradabran confirmed that Kelly died of “Hypovolemic shock due to internal bleeding, due  thesmultiple abdominal trauma, due to blunt instrument type.”

On April 18, 2013 Ryan Lozano, 21, a resident of Ladyville Village was caught along with another man in the act of burglarizing a home in the Los Largos area.

Lozano was shot three times with an AR-15 assault rifle and died early the following morning.

In their account of the story, Ladyville Police reported that Lozano was advancing toward them in a threatening manner with a crowbar and a knife. The police reported that they cautioned him, but he continued to advance.

Following his death, Cynthia Usher, Lozano’s mother told the media that she learned from a doctor who was attending her son at the KHMH that he was shot three time in the back.

On May 10, 2013,  Rasheed Elijio, 18, and another man, Brian Garcia, were being transported to the Belize Central Prison on a James Bus from the Punta Gorda Magistrate’s Court.

Elijio was arraigned and remanded on a charge of carnal knowledge.

Elijio and Garcia, who were handcuffed together, reportedly made an escape attempt from the bus that was bringing them to Belize City

The two were later spotted in the Carib Reserve area, but Elijio had been  fatally shot in his side by police.

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