We have reported on the killing of 44-year old Richard Allen Garcia, a resident of Chunox Village. He was shot and killed by a police officer just before 5:00 p.m. on Friday evening in his yard just next to the E and R Grocery Store. Our colleagues at CTV 3 spoke to Superintendent Dennis Arnold, OC of the Corozal Police station who explained what happened.
Sr. Supt. Dennis Arnold, Commander, Corozal Police: Early March of this year, a lady from Tunush went to the Progresso police to make a report in relation to this young man, Richard Allen Garcia. She had made mention that several years ago she had gave Mister Garcia permission to stay on the said land. Now, she is ready to improve the land and the building and Mister Garcia refused to leave the premises, instead he pull machete and threatened her with her life. She went to the Progresso police, the police went out there. At that time Mister Garcia, he was over at the neighbour, he saw the police went there. When the police left he went home. The neighbours, the following day, went back to tell the police that the man was right at the neighbour’s house whilst you were there. S well the police apparently didn’t look into that report immediately. Between March and present, we have about 3 or 4 different reports indicating that Mister Garcia threatened people with machete when they entered that premises. He even send message to the police that once we go there, he will chop them.
Sr. Supt. Dennis Arnold, Commander, Corozal Police: When the officers got to his house apparently he was waiting. When the officer knocked on the door, he opened and just came out with the machete swinging. Apparently, he wanted to chop the officers. The officer backed up and fell to the ground. Apparently Mister Garcia wanted to chop the officer in the head, so the officer was on his back firing kicks towards Mister Garcia. It was then that the other officer fired couple warning shots, Mister Garcia didn’t ease, didn’t stop. He intended to chop the officer. That was when the fatal shot caught him.
Garcia was hit to the chin, neck and right collar bone. The warning shots somehow hit the nearby grocery store and the store owner’s truck. According to a childhood friend of Garcia, Marleni Teck, her aunt raised Garcia. She says that even though Garcia had mental problems, the force used against him was excessive in her opinion.
Marleni Teck, Friend of Richard Garcia: As you see him you you’re going to be kind of afraid because just be seeing him he was a little bit, – he use to trip off. He had a little mental problem. I was very shocked because for me, this didn’t have to be done here in the village because we, – I think the police came directly to him with that mentality, too much force. It was 4 police officers against one. If he attacked the police, according to what the police report said that he attacked the police with a machete. The other police could have shot his foot or his arm, but not on his head.
After shooting and killing Garcia, police were unable to remove the man’s body from the scene because an angry mob of villagers surrounded them.
Sr. Supt. Dennis Arnold, Commander, Corozal Police: Somewhere, after 6 when night was coming in, the scenes of crime officers went out there along with other officers because the crowd was all riled up. As soon as dark set, they started stoning the officers and they had to take cover. They left everything there, they left the scenes of crime kit; they took it, I don’t know it is right now. They had injured several officers, they stone them with stones, bottle, mangoes, bricks, you name it. In that incident we had like 5 officers getting injured and I just would want to explain that if officers can identify any of these people who were stoning them; I was made to understand it, it was about 150 villagers. If the officers can identity anyone who was stoning then I guess that they will be picked up and charged.
Marleni Teck, Friend of Richard Garcia: Yes the villagers were very angry because he was a humbe working man. He use to get his living by cleaning the yards, cutting firewood and all kind of job. If you have any vegetables at home you call him and he sells them and you pay him what he deserve. That’s why the people were very angry, and that’s why they chase him because the police didn’t have no way to attack that man that way. That’s why the villagers were very mad.
The shooting death of Richard Garcia is currently being investigated by the Professional Standards Branch.