Published in: ,

Some Thoughts Before The Verdict

Some Thoughts Before The Trial
Last Updated: February 17, 2023

We’ve all had some much-needed time to reflect after the last tumultuous days of Kareem Martinez’s trial for Laddie’s manslaughter. And, now, while awaiting Justice Antoinette Moore’s verdict, we’re thinking about some of the consequential things that have happened these last few weeks.

From the unnecessarily confrontational police presence at the start of the trial, to the careful attention and determination to get to the facts shown by Justice Moore, to the disgraceful conduct of certain police witnesses during the hearing, and then the kindness and concern shown to Laddie’s family by Police Commissioner Chester Williams, it’s been a wild ride, with a lot to unpack.

After six days of proceedings that included an official fact-finding trip to the scene of the fatal shooting in Placencia, and the testimonies of seventeen witnesses, one thing that stood out to many of us was the incompetence and downright lying shown by some police officers.

We’ve gone over this in earlier posts, but former corporal Martinez’s case began falling apart on day three in court, and went swiftly downhill after that.

When Justice Moore and her staff drove to the scene of the shooting at Placencia, the officers’ already dubious testimony weakened even further.

Laddie's Memorial

Laddie's Memorial

Again, this is covered in more detail in earlier posts, but it’s safe to say that, even with unbelievable, extraordinary athleticism worthy of Olympic Gold on the part of Laddie and his friend Thomas Palacio, along with disappearing bushes and a magic bullet, things obviously could not have occurred the way Martinez and his fellow officers swore they did.

The last courtroom sitting ended with a frustrated Justice Moore famously ejecting  PC Augustine from the courtroom with a warning that she would be asking the Director of Public Prosecutions to begin an investigation into perjury.

After the trial closed, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams rang Laddie’s foster parents, Bryony and Emil Bradley, and spoke with Ms Bradley.

Day 1 Of Trial

“After offering his condolences, the Commissioner said that he’s monitoring the case closely, and that Crown Prosecutor Javier Chan told him that at least one his officers had not told the truth today, and will be investigated for perjury.

“Commissioner Williams said he asked Mr Chan for a complete report, and then he’ll conduct an internal investigation. He assured me that any officers found to be lying will be charged, and that stiff disciplinary action will be taken against them,” Ms Bradley reported.

We believe the Commissioner is sincere. After attending Laddie’s funeral, and laying a wreath at the boy’s tomb, he later dismissed Martinez from the police service. Martinez appealed the dismissal, but Commissioner Williams appears steadfast in wanting to rid his police force of bad cops.

It’s a big job, and we wish him well.

Lucy Fleming, Laddie’s foster grandmother, who is also a co-founder and Chair of the Justice for Laddie Foundation, said she feels a good place to start would be to implement Laddie’s Law.

“Ever since we first proposed Laddie’s Law, we’ve been hoping to hear that the Police Department and Home Affairs Ministry would at least consider the common-sense measures it contains.

Laddie's Law

Laddie’s Foundation proposed it in good faith soon after Laddie was taken from us. We saw, and still see it as a way to re-establish trust between the Police and the communities they serve. Better communication, with greater transparency and accountability will go a long way, frankly, to repair some of the damage these bad actors have done.

“We’ve always supported Belize’s police service, and have repeatedly expressed our belief that most officers are decent, hard-working men and women. That’s why the Foundation hopes to work together with police to support Belize’s young people with proactive programs and initiatives,” Ms Fleming said.

“We honestly believe that Laddie has created an opportunity for lasting, positive change, and now is the time to take advantage of it. The recent Youth for Change Symposium we sponsored showed that there are many responsible young people with insights that deserve to be heard, and we hope that Belize’s law enforcement professionals are ready and willing to listen to them.

img 6828 2

“That would be Laddie’s greatest legacy,” Ms Fleming added.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defence in Kareem Martinez’s trial are currently preparing their final submissions, with Justice Moore expected to hand down her verdict on March 15, 2023.

Details and updates will continue to be posted on The Justice for Laddie Foundation Website and Facebook pages, as well as on Lucy Fleming and Bryony Bradley’s Facebook posts.

Public comments are welcome.

Belize is Watching

Belize Is Watching

Laddie’s Law is comprised of six common sense measures

  • Nominate a private citizens review board to liaise with the Belize Police Service to examine and jointly issue a report following any instance of a minor being hurt or killed by police officers.
  • Ensure that any police officer who, in carrying out his or her duties, causes injuries or death to a member of the public, and especially a minor, immediately be tested for the presence of drugs or alcohol
  • Make it mandatory that the results of those tests, as well as sworn testimony by attending police officers, medical personnel and first responders such as ambulance drivers be immediately and formally recorded
  • Ensure that police officers who discharge their service weapons – for any reason – fill out and sign a form outlining when, where, under what conditions, and for what reason they fired their weapon
  • Agree that all records and forms outlined above be formally recorded, archived and made available to the Director of Public Prosecutions and relevant authorities.