A video surfaced on Facebook yesterday showing three GSU officers using a great deal of force in the process of detaining a Belize City Resident. The video went viral with close to a thousand shares online and over 40 thousand views in one day. GSU officers are seen at the beginning of the video standing around 21 years old Ryan Rhaburn dressed in a white t-shirt. Then without warning, the officer that standing behind Rhaburn grabbed him from the neck in a choke hold position. The officer then proceeded to carry him away, still in a choke hold, while the Rhaburn seemingly tried to fight his way out of the hold. The video ended with Rhaburn forcefully getting out of the choke hold, after which, a struggle ensued on the ground between him and at least 2 officers. Online viewers have voiced outrage against the force used by the officers, calling it ‘unwarranted force’ and an ‘abuse of authority’. This morning we heard from ACP Chester Williams about the video. He told the media that the online video does not reveal all that transpired.
Chester Williams, Assistant Commissioner of Police: The Belize Police Department strongly denounces any form of police abuse. It has been our practice to inform our officers that they must at all time treat the public with the utmost respect, but in that same vein, we must also understand that the police has a job to do. In execution of the police duties, at times, they encounter persons who may be resistant to the police. In the particular incident, that was the case from what I have been made to understand. If you look at the video, the video didn’t show what led to the officers doing what they did, but from what we have gathered is that the police officers went to detain the young man who was wanted in connection to an investigation. They had a back and forth with the police trying to convince him to go with them, and he blatantly said to the police he was not going anywhere. Now what do you expect the police to do? Walk away from a man who refuses to be taken into custody? The law is clear that the police must use all force that is reasonably necessary in the circumstances to detain a person who is wanted by the police, and from what I saw in the video, the police used the force that was necessary to detain the person. I didn’t see the police brutalizing him. They grabbed him, took him to the vehicle, got him inside the vehicle and took him to the police station. I need the public to understand that while yes, we support the public in the sense that the public must not brutalize them. We call upon the public to be more cooperative with the police. Even if the police wants to detain you and you know that you have not committed a crime, your duty is to comply. If at the end of the day the investigation proves that you are not the person that committed the crime, you will be released from custody. But, when you resist police arrest, the law does give the police authority to use force that is necessary to get you into custody.