A San Pedro man appeared in Belize City Magistrate’s Court charged with discharging a firearm within 40 yards of a public road. But he claims that he was doing it to protect himself from two pitbulls who came after him. The man is 33 year old cabinetmaker Byron Evans and the dogs are owned by a neighbor of Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia, Jr., who just recently returned to the country from Cannes, France. Mr Evans was walking on Tarpon Street near the Minister’s residence on June 10 around 6:00 p.m. to pick up his wife when the two dogs came after him and he shot at them with his licensed .38 revolver which he had on him at the time. Police elected to charge Evans but attorney Oscar Selgado insists that his client is protected by Section 40 (1) (a) of the Firearms Act which allows for use of a firearm in self-defense, and should not have been charged. Mr Selgado has taken the case to Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal and she ordered via a memorandum on Friday that ByronEvans be freed. But on Friday afternoon, when we spoke to Oscar Selgado at court, he said police in San Pedro have been reluctant to follow through.
“He still has not been released until Monday, and that is because when the DPP faxed the memorandum to San Pedro Police Station this afternoon, at 10 minutes past 12, they acknowledged receipt, and they did nothing about it. They still haven’t done anything about it yet. As a matter of fact Mr Castellanos, as we speak, 3 pm this afternoon, he still in denial that he got the memorandum.”
MrSelgado says officer in charge on the island, Superintendent Luis Castellanos, is aware of the memorandum which was faxed at 12:10 p.m. and officially received but neither he nor his colleagues on the mainland have moved to right the state of affairs.
“[We have] a situation where person, a citizen, a Belizean would have been in jail now for ten days, unwarranted. Mr. Castallanos made no effort this afternoon, after the memorandum was faxed to him. I went to the office of the Police Prosecution and spoke there to Inspector Carol Tucker, trying to gain assistance to get my client released. Again, I fell upon stumbling blocks. I spoke to Miss Donnella Hawk, the attorney in the office of the Police Prosecutions Department, and she again said she couldn’t do anything about it. So the matter is resting now until Monday, where the Chief Magistrate has said that she would hear the matter . The matter will be heard on Monday, and an order for the removal of Byron Evans will be made.”
Oscar Selgado says he will talk to his client about potentially suing the authorities for spending ten days in jail as of Friday due to the “unlawful and arbitrary behavior” of San Pedro police. Meanwhile, we asked about the comments of Minister Heredia on the matter. Mr Selgado says it has not been established whose dogs were involved – the Minister says he does not own any – but the issue at fault is that they were not properly secured and were known to be aggressive. The case returns to court on Monday.