To All Media, Please plan to attend this incredibly important march in San Pedro tomorrow. Press release follows. Then there are three statements concerning the incident on May 18th. Please read and contact me if you have any questions. Francis Wilson 610-3421 or 226-3456 or Vernon Wilson 610-3425
HOLY CROSS ANGLICAN PRIMARY SCHOOL
PLEASE ANNOUNCE THIS ON THE AIR UNTIL MARCH TIME TOMORROW!!!!!! Thank you
May 26, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 9:00 am – Central Park. A Community-Wide March is being organized for this day under the theme, “Justice For All”!!!!! This march is designed to increase awareness of the abuse suffered by our women and children here in San Pedro. It will also focus on how the local Police Department must respond to domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act of 2007.
This march is being held in response to an incident on Monday, May 18, involving the San Pedro Police Department, a teacher from Holy Cross and our very own Vernon & Francis Wilson. Please show your support for “Justice For All” by marching with us!!!!!!! ALL CHILDREN, ALL PARENTS, ALL CITIZENS AND EVERYONE CONCERNED ARE WELCOME !
May 19, 2009
My name is Francis Wilson. I am a US citizen and a resident of Belize where I have lived for the past nine years. My husband and I are volunteer missionaries with the Anglican Diocese of Belize. Currently I am serving as Local Manager and Volunteer Coordinator at Holy Cross Anglican School in San Pedro. My husband and I have overseen the building and development of Holy Cross starting with three classrooms and 62 students in September 2006 to the current level of 512 students, seventeen classrooms, a complete library and a 40 unit computer lab.
I am writing to detail the events that occurred Monday, May 18, 2009 from approximately 9am until shortly after 6pm.
I arrived at the Holy Cross School Office around 9am. Shortly after that the Principal, Mrs. Grace Williams said she needed to talk with me. Mrs. Williams shared her concerns about one of the teachers, Ms.X. Based on conversations she and Ms. X had had the previous weekend, Mrs. Williams was fearful that Ms. X was in physical danger from her ex-common law husband, Mark Martinez. Mr. Martinez is also the father of Ms. X's 2 year old son and is employed as a policeman by the San Pedro Police Department.
I was aware that the previous year, Ms. X had suffered a severe beating which left her black and blue and out of work for several days. At that time Ms. X filed charges against Policeman Mark Martinez. When I later asked Ms. X what had happened she told me "Nothing, because he is a policeman." She also told me that she was afraid he would kill her and that she couldn't get any protection from the local Police Department where Mr. Martinez was employed.
Mrs. Williams was especially concerned because Ms. X had not come to work on Monday and had not called to notify the Office of her absence. That behavior was out of character for Ms. X who is a conscientious employee. In addition, another teacher at Holy Cross, had told Mrs. Williams that the door to Ms. X's house was open when she walked by on her way to the school that morning. In my presence, Mrs. Williams then called Ms. X's cell phone. Mrs. Williams asked to speak to Ms. X. She then identified herself as the school principal, said she must speak to Ms. X and would call back in five minutes. Mrs. Williams informed me that a man had answered the phone.
In about 5 minutes Mrs. Williams redialed Ms. X's cell number. I heard Mrs. Williams ask, "Ms. X is that you?" then, "Are you alright?" then, "Is he there with you?" then "Are you in danger?". Finally Mrs. Williams said, "You've got to tell me where you are", then "We'll come get you".
Mrs. Williams hung up the phone said Ms. X was frightened and that Mark Martinez was with her. I immediately called my husband, Vernon, and the school secretary called a taxi cab driven by Mr. Victor Barbosa and we left to find Ms. X. We located Ms. X and her son in the company of a man I later learned was Mark Martinez in front of the RC Church on Barriar Reef Drive. My husband and I got out of the taxi and went toward Ms. X. As soon as Ms. X saw us she ran to the taxi and got in the back seat. She was crying and the baby was crying.
Mark Martinez dressed in a white stripped shirt and pants ran after her shouting, "You can't do this to me!" and "Give me my son!" and "X, don't do this!" My husband and I were also screaming for him to leave Ms. X alone and to go to the Police Station. I remember saying over and over again, "Go to the Police Station!!" and "Call the police!". The taxi didn't move as Mark Martinez was holding onto the cab, pushing open the sliding window and screaming at Ms. X. Ms. X was sitting in the back of the van, I got into the van, slammed the door, all the while screaming for us all to "Go to the Police Station". I kept trying to slide the window shut to get Mark Martinez out of the way so we could leave.
Mark Martinez then jumped into the taxi through the window behind the driver seat. In the process he slammed me against the opposite door of the taxi. I started screaming hysterically for him to get off me. I'm not quite sure what happen next but somehow he was pulled out of the taxi. I jumped to my feet and put myself between the open door and Ms. X attempting to protect the baby and her. The next thing I knew a man dressed in an Immigration Department uniform was standing at the open side door of the taxi telling us we couldn't do anything because "That man is a policeman". Mark Martinez was not in a police uniform but in casual clothes. He left the scene and we finally headed to the police station about 2 minutes away.
When we got to the Police Station, Mark Martinez was already there talking to some of the uniformed policemen. My husband, and I went into the Station where we met with Chief Arnold in his office Mark Martinez was also present. I explained what had happened, all the while Mr. Martinez was denying everything I said. Mark Martinez kept insisting that he and Ms. X had just had a little argument and now everything was fine, not at all what Ms. X had said to me in the cab! She said they had long ago stopped living together but that he continued to terrorize her. That he had recently broken into her home, slapped her, thrown her against the wall and threatened to kill her. (I later learned that Ms. X had talked with Mark Martinez's mother who lives in Belize City on Sunday, May 17. Ms.X told her the abuse she was suffering from the hands of Mr. Martinez. Mr. Martinez's mother came to San Pedro and spoke with her son. I can only imagine that this may have provoked Mr. Martinez and led to the incident early Monday morning.)
Chief Arnold said if there was a problem with abuse Ms. X should have taken care of it and called the police. I responded that she had tried to get police help but had been unsuccessful. I mentioned the complaint Ms. X had filed the previous year against Mark Martinez and that it had seemed to disappear. Chief Arnold then informed me that it was Ms. X who dropped the charges and he considered the matter resolved. I said she had only done that because she was frightened to death. Chief Arnold responded that she had no reason to be afraid but I insisted she did. That the very fact that Mark Martinez was an active duty policeman made the matter very difficult for Ms. X.. Chief Arnold said he had informed all his policeman that he would not tolerate any of them laying a hand on a woman. All the while Mark Martinez was claiming how innocent he was.
Finally Chief Arnold said we should all give statements and we were split up. Ms. X and the baby went in one direction, Vernon was taken to another room, I remained in the center section and Mark Martinez roamed around the entire office laughing and joking with his fellow officers. After I gave my statement and insisted that Mr. Martinez be charged with assault, I waited for Ms.X. I had been told she needed to go upstairs to the Clerk of Court to obtain a restraining order against Mark Martinez.
While waiting, I looked out the front door and saw Mark Martinez talking to the taxi driver, Mr. Barbosa. I was concerned that Mark Martinez might be attempting to pressure Mr. Barbosa into a certain slant on recent events. I walked over to the taxi and asked Mark Martinez to step away from the cab. He refused, I asked him again and he again refused saying I had no right to ask him to move. I responded that I was the paying client for the cab and therefore I had the right to ask. He again refused and said he would only move if Mr. Barbosa asked him. Mr. Barbosa asked Mark Martinez to move off and he did.
I got into the taxi and apologized to Mr. Barbosa for getting him involved in the situation. I told him that I knew no one wanted to get on the bad side of the police. Mr. Barbosa replied that it didn't matter what the man (Mark Martinez) said to him, he (Mr. Barbosa) would only tell the truth and tell what he saw. I said that's great. Then I got out of the taxi and went back into the police station.
About 10 minutes later the same man I mentioned earlier who was in an Immigration Department uniform came into the Police Station with three young girls that appeared to be having immigration issues. A short while later I saw Mark Martinez talking with the Immigration Officer. I walked over and stood close enough to hear a little of the conversation. Mark Martinez was telling the Immigration Officer what to say had happened. I approached Mark Martinez and told him it was not right to try to change a witness story. Mark Martinez told me "You better stay out of my personal business" and went on talking to the Immigration Officer. I again said it wasn't right to be doing what he was doing and that he should know better. He walked towards me and said, "You shouldn't get into my business."
About this time I saw Ms. X and went over to her. We went upstairs together to see the Clerk of Court for the restraining order. It was about 11:30am. After waiting for about 15 minutes we went in to see the Clerk of Court who started asking why Ms. X wanted a restraining order. Ms. X said she had just told the police all that was going on and why she was afraid. The clerk said she had to have the information again. Ms. X answered that Mark Martinez was threatening her, had repeatedly broken into her home, often hit, punched and kicked her, had been stalking her and told her he would kill her. The clerk said it sounded like this abuse had been going on for a long time and why hadn't Ms. X done something about it. Ms.X said she had tried but the police wouldn't help her and she was too frightened.
The clerk asked Ms.X why she was wanting a restraining order right now...had something recently happened? Ms. X told her that early on Monday around 2am, Mark Martinez had broken down her door, pulled her up out of bed, hit her on the right side of her head, slammed her against the wall and threatened to kill her. The Clerk asked if Ms. X had filed charges? Had she told the police that she wanted this to go to court? Ms. X answered "yes" to both questions. The clerk then called to speak with Sargent Wade to make sure charges had been filed against Mark Martinez. After getting off the phone, the clerk told Ms. X that no charges had been filed but that the matter was being investigated.
Ms. X dropped her head and started crying. She said, "Do you see what I mean? I told Sargent Wade I wanted Mark Martinez to be prosecuted and now he is denying it. They won't believe me until they find my dead body." The clerk said not to worry that she would make sure Ms. X got the restraining order and that what was happening wasn't right. About that time Sargent Wade walked into the Clerk's office. All three of us told him that Mark Martinez should be persecuted. He replied that the matter was under investigation. Then Ms.X finished filling out the forms and was told she needed to pay $5.00 downstairs for a copy of the form. The clerk also told Ms.X that she needed a doctor's report. The clerk gave her the form and we left the police station to go see Dr. Dan Gonzales. It was about 1pm.
My husband Vernon had just returned from seeing Dr. Gonzales with his left hand bandaged as the result of a bad sprain caused when Mark Martinez jerked his hand. We waited until Dr. Gonzales returned to the office from lunch around 1:20pm. Ms. X was seen and the form filled out.
After seeing Dr. Gonzales, I suggested Ms. X go get lunch and seek the safety of Holy Cross. The baby was tired and hungry and Ms. X looked exhausted. I also told Ms. X to go to her home and remove her personal items and we would put her in a safe place. Mr. Barbosa picked Ms. X up, got her lunch took her and another employee of the school to get Ms. X's things and I returned to the Police Station to pay the $5.00 fee.
When I got back to the Police Station I was informed by one of the policemen that I was under arrest and so was my husband. I was told to call someone to take my personal items and that I could not leave the Police Station. I was truly stunned. Not only was I stunned but I was deeply concerned with the treatment I was receiving from the police. I kept trying to find out what I was charged with, if I would be imprisoned, what was going on?!? The police were abrupt, often ignored me, ordered me around, told me sit on a small wooden first aid kit box and refused to answer most of my questions. Meanwhile Mark Martinez continued to go and come all around the station. He sat and read both my statement and my husband's and our complaints against him. He then proceeded to write out his own statement which appeared to be at least two pages long. My husband and I were given a paragraph by the officers who took our statements.
About this time my husband began complaining of terrific pains in his back. I heard him repeatedly ask different policemen if he could go to see Dr. Dan Gonzales whose office is about a one minute walk from the Police Station. No one would answer him. He kept asking and requested that an officer be allowed to accompany him to the doctor. He was told he couldn't leave the Police Station because he was under arrest.
Finally the officer who was in charge of receiving payment for the restraint order returned from lunch. It was approximately 2pm. I paid the $5.00 and went upstairs to give the receipt to the Clerk. The Clerk was in a hearing and I was waiting outside the door to her office. After about 15 minutes a policeman came upstairs and informed me that since I was under arrest I could not be behind the police desk. I was once again stunned. I looked at the officer and said, "Do you mean to tell me that I can't deliver this receipt to the Clerk for the restraining order because I can't be behind the police desk and Mark Martinez has been all over this station?!?" The officer looked rather sheepish and said "Ok, but as soon as you give that to the clerk come right back down stairs."
About 3pm after giving the receipt to the Clerk, I went back downstairs. I couldn't find my husband and was asking everyone where he was. I was hopeful that he had gone to the doctor but didn't know for sure. No one would tell me. Finally a lady who was waiting on another matter told me the police had taken him and locked him up in the holding cell. I was horrified. Why had this happened??? And, still Mark Martinez was doing whatever he wanted, chatting up all his friends in uniform, trading jokes and laughing a great deal.
I started making phone calls to everyone I knew...Mrs. Williams at the School, Mrs.Carol Babb, Deputy CEO in the Ministry of Education and several personal friends on the Island. About half hour later I heard my husband's voice and saw him in the back of the police station with Mark Martinez and another officer. I was frightened. Still no one would tell me anything, just that proper police procedures were being followed and that I could not leave the Police Station because I was under arrest.
A while later my husband was taken into Chief Arnold's office. He was in there for a half hour or more. Many officers went in and out of Chief Arnold's office while my husband was inside. Finally after what seem an eternity, my husband came out of Chief Arnold's office and was allowed to talk with me. He told me that several folks had called Chief Arnold to express their outrage that we had been arrested. He also said that we would eventually be allowed to go home sometime later in the day.
I asked Vernon what had happened when he was put in the holding cell. He said he was taken and locked up and was in the cell for about 45minutes. Then Mark Martinez and another officer Clark came and got him out, took him into one of the back rooms and told him that he should drop the charges against Mark Martinez because it wasn't a good idea to make enemies.
Around 4:30pm Vernon and I were taken upstairs where we appeared before the Magistrate and were formally charged. I was charged with "Wounding". It seemed that Mark Martinez had presented fingernail imprints on his arm. I may have grabbed his arm. when he flattened me in the taxi. Vernon was charged with "Destruction of Property" as Mark Martinez's shirt was torn when Vernon pulled him off of me. And Mr. Martinez alleged that Vernon had broken his gold chain and that another chain was missing. I believe this also occurred when Mark Martinez lunged through the window of the taxi van. Trial date was set for June 22nd.
We then were taken back downstairs where I was so happy to see the entire staff of Holy Cross Anglican School standing in the waiting area. I wasn't allowed to speak to anybody and was again told to sit on the first aid box up against the wall. We waited. Vernon was taken into another office and I was kept in the large open area. Finally around 5pm a police officer came and asked me all sorts of questions about where I was from, names and ages of family members, when I got married, etc. All sorts of questions that didn't make a lot of sense to me. He was speaking very quickly and I had difficulty understanding what he was saying. I asked him several times to speak more slowly or to repeat his questions but he continued speaking very rapidly. I was then fingerprinted and felt like a low life criminal.
Vernon was called upstairs to make bail and one of the teachers signed for him. He came back downstairs and was told he could go. Meanwhile I continued to sit on the box. Several police officers fussed at the Holy Cross staff telling them they were making too much noise and ordering them to leave. I overheard one of the officers say to another policeman, "Do they think they can teach us a lesson by being here?" and they both laughed.
I continued to sit and grow more terrified by the minute. I was frightened that the Clerk of Court would leave and I would be locked up over night. Neither my husband nor any of the teachers were allowed to speak to me. Mark Martinez came over and sat (in a chair) beside me and said, "I told you not to get into my business". Then he walked off and joined a few other officers for more chatting and joking.
Finally one of the teachers stormed upstairs to find out what was going on. About 10 minutes later I was called upstairs and given bail. At almost 6pm we were finally allowed to leave the Police Station.
I have never in all my 59 years been so humiliated or treated with such contempt as I was in the San Pedro Police Station on Monday, May 18, 2009. I have never been arrested before, never even gotten a traffic ticket. I am a law abiding citizen here in Belize to try to help educate children from disadvantaged circumstances. The charges against me are ridiculous and everyone in that Police Department knew it. One policeman told me "We have no choice but to arrest you. Anyone can file a complaint at any time and we must prepare charges." I know for a fact that that statement is not true. I feel these were trumped up charges that never would have resulted in my arrest if the complainant had not been a policeman.
I must also admit that in the short time since this hellish day occurred, I've heard numerous horror stories from folks here at the school, at a restaurant where my husband and I went to eat after making bail, from a taxi driver and several friends. Having experienced what I experienced on Monday I have no other choice than to believe that many of these sad stories are true. I am appalled that this happened and sincerely hope and pray something will be done to improve the Police Department here in San Pedro and to protect innocent victims like Ms.X from what I consider police brutality. If Mark Martinez were not a policeman, I don't believe he could have gotten away with terrorizing Ms. X and intimidating her into total panic.
From Vernon Wilson
Report of incident on 18-05-2009 on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
I was at home doing some work when I received a phone call from my wife Francis. She is the local Manager of Holy Cross Anglican School in San Mateo Area on Ambergris Caye . I am the Director of that same school. She was very worried about one of our teachers who was not at school that morning. She was informed by the principal that Ms. X had confided in her the past weekend that her ex-commom law husband was threatening her life. When another teacher showed up at school on the 18th and told Mrs. Williams, the principal, that she
went by Ms. X’s home and found the door wide open, she was concerned. It appeared that the door had been broken in and no one was there.
Mrs. Williams then called Ms.X’s cell phone and a man answered. Mrs. Williams asked to speak to Ms. X and was told that she was not there. Mrs. Williams said that she did not think that was the truth and she would call back in 5 minutes and she had better be able to speak to Ms.X.
5 minutes later she called again and Ms. X was allowed to talk but could only answer yes and no. Through a series of questions she indicated that Officer Martinez was holding her and her son and she was fearful for her life and that they were heading to the Belize Bank.
My wife then asked if I would come over so we could go and see if we could find them. I dropped everything and rushed over to the school where the taxi and my wife were waiting. We drove down to town and found them outside the Roman Catholic Church by Fido’s Restaurant. I called Chief Arnold at the police station and informed him I needed help and where we were.
We pulled up in front of them and my wife and I got out of the van. My wife ran over to Ms. X who was shaking and in tears and while I was confronting the officer, who was in plain clothes and off duty. They ran to the van and Ms. X jumped into the back of the van with her young son.
Mr. Martinez then tried to pursue Ms. X into the van but my wife was between him and the van. I was behind him at this time. I called Chief Arnold again and pleaded for help and ask him to send help fast, as one of his officers was assaulting my wife.
A crowd of people were forming around the area by this time.
The officer shoved my wife and I got between him and her and told him he was to get out of here and we were going to the police and filling a report against him. He got enraged and was shouting you ___ , you can not interfere with my personal life. We had an argument last night and we worked it all out and my son is coming with me and she is not going back to your school.
I said that as long as she was an employ of my school she was under my supervision and if she needed assistance it was available. And, obviously she wanted it now.
My wife closed the door to the van and he was still yelling at me and my wife. He then went around the van and tried to get into the van via the open window on the driver’s side. He was shouting to his x wife “don’t you do this to me” over and over. My wife had come around from the back of the van and was trying to close the window to prevent him from getting in. I told her to get into the van and let’s go to the police station, which is about 4 blocks away.
My wife got into the van and put herself between the officer who was on the outside of the van yelling at me and his x wife at the same time. He then realized that the window was no longer being blocked and he opened it all the way and proceeded to jump head first into the van.
I reached out and grabbed his shirt as he lunged at my wife through the open window. She was slammed into the side of the van by the force of his movement. His shirt tore and I grabbed his belt as he kicked his way the rest of the way into the van. He turned at me and said you tore my shirt. I said yes and I am not letting you go and with that he hit me in the right side of my face with his left hand and then grabbed my left hand thumb and tried to break it. I was holding onto his belt with my left hand so he could not get at my wife or his x wife.
Sometime during this struggle to restrain him, a friend of ours Mr. Bob Hamilton had jumped into the van through the passenger door and placed himself between the officer and the women thus blocking him from getting to them.
Bob told the officer we were taking him to the police station and he got violent with Bob and tried to break his leg which was blocking his way out of the van and access to the back of the van where the frightened women and child were.
Bob moved his leg after being struck several times in fear of it being broken. The officer then exited the van still yelling “you cannot interfere with my private life”
A Customs official showed up and told us we could not interfere with the officer.
I ran around to the van and jumped in and we went off to the police station. When we arrived the officer was already at the station.
I was told that the police showed up at the site of the crime 10 minutes after we left to go to the police station. They were pulling out of the parking lot as we were pulling in.
My wife and I got out of the van and went into the police station to file a report against the officer. We were treated in what I felt was a disrespectful way and often times were ignored by the officers on duty there at the time.
My wife found out what was needed to file a restraint order on the officer for Ms. X and she then went and got that started.
While she was doing that I walked a block to Dr. Dan’s and got my thumb examined. It was taped up and I received some meds for the pain. I then walked back to the police station. Finally I got an officer to take my statement, he seemed nice at the time.
Officer Martinez was laughing and joking with his fellow duty officers. My wife was taken some place else to have her statement taken. After I made my statement, the officer asked me if I was going to be pressing charges and I said yes. He then escorted me out of the office and told me to wait.
While I was waiting, my wife was upstairs with the Clerk of the Court to help Ms. X fill out the paper work she needed for her protection.
I was watching as the officer who took my report took it over to a desk and laid it down where I guessed the officer would record it into a book. The officer read the statement to himself and then handed it to Officer Martinez who read it and shook his head. Then he read the statement from my wife and the statement which Bob Hamilton gave. Then he picked up a pen and a statement sheet and started writing his statement down.
It was after he finished writing his statement down and he had handed it to the officer sitting at the desk with him that I was informed that my wife and I were to be arrested!!! And we could not leave the building and had to turn over all our personal belongings.
I protested and was given a copy of the charges against me and was told that I could leave my processions with someone else if I chose. I then made a few phone calls to friends to see what type of help I could get.. this was stupid.. I was trying to protect two women and a child from a over the edge police officer who had threatened to kill one of the women and I was going to jail!!!
I waited in the station and soon my wife came back from taking Ms. X to Dr. Dan’s office. She was told she was being arrested and charged for “Wounding”.
I inquired about getting a copy of my statement and was totally ignored. I finally insisted and was told that I had to get a Ms. Thomas to do it. She was pointed out to myself and my wife and she ignored us. She then took some children somewhere. When she returned we inquired again and she did not answer us but just keep on walking. Then one of the other officers said that she was on her lunch break. When she finally came back she said something about I had to get permission from the Chief to get a copy of our statements. She then abruptly turned around and stomped off.
While standing at the counter my lower back started to hurt very badly. I asked if an officer could escort me to the Dr’s office a block away so I could get it looked at and get something for the pain. I was ignored. I asked over the period of about an hour 10 times to go to the doctor before an officer walked in to the room and listened to me and then took me to get my back checked. I was examined and given a shot for the pain and inflammation to my lower disk. The Deputy Mayor showed up and wanted to know what was happening. I told him and he went to make some phone calls to see what he could do.
We then walked back to the police station and I asked for another medical form so I could file it with my statement along with the one that covered my thumb. I never was given another form that day. I was ignored.
All the while officer Martinez was joking around with his friend and walking in and out of the building at free will.
After about an hour I was taken back to the cell and locked up with the other prisoners. This was after I was assured by my lawyer I would not have to be put into the jail but would be allowed to remain in the building until bail was posted for me.
I remained in the holding cell for about 20 minutes and Officer Clark escorted another prisoner to the cell. After he left him and he was locking the cell, he told me that he would be talking to me in a while.
About another 20-30 minutes passed and he came and got me and escorted me to a back room where a plain clothes man was waiting with officer Martinez. He then set me down and talked for about 10 minutes trying to get me to drop the charges against Mark Martinez. He said that if I dropped my charges then officer Martinez would drop his charges against my wife and I.
I told them that I had done nothing wrong at which time he said “I don’t think there is any need for you to make any enemies here!” I took this as a threat.
He then said that I would be wise to just drop everything and they would handle it internally. I said that there was not much they could do to interfere with my life here. Even though I was thinking about applying for citizenship nothing in my life that I was doing or planning on doing would be affected by this.
I saw that they were getting irritated at me for not just dropping the charges and decided that it would be better to give them an option so I could get out of the room. I suggested that if officer Martinez went to counseling to teach him how to deal with his anger, I might decide to drop the charges.
That seemed to appease them. Another officer stuck his head into the room and I was told that I could go and wait out front.
Officer Martinez suggested I go and talk with Chief Arnold. I said I would like to do that and he escorted me to the chief’s office as if he were on duty escorting a prisoner. When I entered the office I informed officer Martinez that I wanted to talk to the Chief by myself and did not want him in here with me. Chief Arnold motion for officer Martinez to leave the room. He hesitantly closed the door and left.
I then set down on the sofa and started talking with Chief Arnold and he said that he had gotten quite a few phone calls and it was not looking good for his department. I said that it was not going to look any better when this all hit the news papers either. He agreed.
I told him I was sorry about this situation but as he knew I supported the police department 110% as long as they were doing their job in a professional manner. But when they stepped across the line I had no support for those officers. He agreed and thanked me for all my previous help and support.
I told him I realized he was working with many under-educated officers and it was hard to get good officers with the little pay that was available. I shared that I felt sorry about doing something that would cost him an employee but I thought it was better to have a few good men then a lot of not so good men.
I then asked Chief Arnold what the procedure was to get a copy of my statement. Sergeant Wade walked in with a stack of papers and the conversation shifted to the charges and the on going investigation. The investigation was heading to a stand off with me charged with damaging Martinez’s property while trying to protect my wife and Ms. X and my claim that he was attacked my wife.
I told them that when it went to court the judge would look at the circumstances surrounding the incident and make his decision on the facts. I then asked Sergeant Wade what he would have done if he was in my shoes and his wife was in a van and a man jumped through the window to try to attack her? Would he back off and let him continue? Or would he try to prevent any harm to his wife? I said I think the judge will decide I was in the right and not Mr. Martinez.
I then told Chief Arnold that I was not happy about being locked up and then taken to a back room and told I should drop the charges against Mark Martinez. I also told him I was not intimidated by being locked up in a cell after teaching at Hattyville Prison for 4 years. Spending a little time behind bars did not scare me as it was obviously intended to do. I told Chief Arnold how his officers had threatened me.
Chief Arnold was less then happy and asked me if I knew the officers name I said no but I could recognize them. Sergeant Wade then escorted me out to the counter where I pointed out Officer Clark badge # 150 I was told was his badge number. Sergeant Wade then called officer Clark into Chief Arnold’s office and asked Officer Clark if he did what I said he had done. He admitted doing it but said he did not threatened me. He said he told me that “I did not need to have an enemy of officer Martinez”. And told me “isn’t that what I said” I said that “I did not hear it that way and what I heard was that I did not need to make any enemies here”.
Chief Arnold was quite upset and had a few words with Officer Clark about his attitude and mouth. He told him that nothing like this was to happen under his watch again. No deal making of any kind was to be tolerated.
He then dismissed Officer Clark.
I then found out the process for the rest of the day as to how things worked and when we might be released.
When I left Chief Arnold’s office, the entire staff from Holy Cross Anglican School was in the waiting area. I was told by one of the officers that I could not talk to anyone until bail was set so I went back behind the counter and stood with my hurting back and waited. My wife was made to sit on an hard top of a first aid kit while officer Martinez set in the chair by the desk next to my wife. My wife was not happy as she has never even gotten a speeding ticket in her life. Needless to say she was traumatized at being treated like a common criminal while trying to protect a person from a villain.
My wife and I were then taken upstairs where we appeared before the Magistrate for formal charging. Court date was set for June 22nd.
After about an hour I got my bond issued and I went down stairs and presented it to a less then happy officer who then informed me I could leave. I went over and started talking with my teachers and supporters. My wife was still sitting on the first aid kit. About 45 minutes went by and they finally called her to go up to get her bond.
While she was there one of the officers yelled at everyone in the waiting area to leave the police station as they could not be in there.
Then someone called and asked if the principal had been arrested and that same officer yelled into the phone “No the principal was not arrested.. and yelled that they needed to get their facts correct.”
One of the teachers then pointed to the sigh on the wall that said it was a waiting room and the officer backed off and said that they could wait but had to be quiet!
My wife came down from up stairs and showed her receipt and was then released and we walked across the street and had drinks with our teachers and friend.
I went back this morning to see about getting a copy of my statement and was rudely told by the morning officers that I could not go to the Chief’s office and knock on his door to see if he was in unless I first checked with them. I have always been able before to go to the Chief’s office and knock and check if he was busy without first checking in at the front desk. Things had changed overnight.
The Chief was not in his office anyway. I then told the policemen that I wanted a copy of my file and was told Chief Arnold had to approve releasing it.
I left and went back later this morning and the Chief was in. I did stop at the front desk and ask first if I could talk to him. One of the now new crew walked around the counter and escorted me to the Chief’s office. This crew was much nicer then the ones who were in the office at 8:30 in the morning.
After talking with the Chief for a few minutes I requested another medical form as I was refused one yesterday. I then went over to Dr. Dan’s and got another anti-inflammatory shot. Dr. Gonzales filled out the form and I went back and gave yet another statement stating that the injury occurred due to the incident with officer Martinez.
I have been told by others that this type of treatment has been going on over here in this police station and I did not believe it. Now I know for a fact that what I had been hearing from the locals is true.
I hope that there will be some changes made in staff over here on the Island and that there will be some more public relations training required of the officers.
I do think that Chief Arnold is trying to do a good job with the resources he has. I have much respect for him. I also think that Sergeant Wade has been very good at doing his duties in a professional manner.
Vernon G. Wilson
Director Holy Cross Anglican School
May 22, 2009
Dear All, I just wanted to update you on the unfolding events in San Pedro. As you may know Vernon and I were arrested by the San Pedro police on Monday, May 18. We were helping one of the teachers at Holy Cross get away from her abusive (beatings, threatening to kill her, stalking, breaking into her home) ex-common law husband who just happens to be a policeman. In the process of rescuing the teacher her ex (thankfully off duty!) jumped through the taxi window flattening me on the floor. It seems I may have scratched him ("Wounding") in the process and Vernon tore his shirt ("Destruction of Property") getting him off me. After 9 hours being held at the Police Station (with Vernon being locked up in that horrible holding cell) we appeared in front of the Magistrate, were charged, finger printed, granted bail and released - what a day!!!
And the saga continues.....on Thursday May 21, Vernon appeared on the local radio talk show to share what all had happen with the citizens of San Pedro. The outpouring of support was incredible!
Later that morning, I accompanied the teacher to the Magistrates Court were a temporary restraining order was to be extended - a formality. The court is upstairs of the Police Department which made for an interesting situation in itself. Anyway we sat and waited and waited some more. Finally she and the ex appeared in front of the magistrate in a tiny room. The magistrate refused to grant the restraining order because the teacher and her ex no longer lived together. In addition he ordered the teacher to turn over her 3 year son to the ex from 9am until 4pm on Saturday with no supervision. This after the ex has repeatedly threatened to take the boy away and never let our teacher see him again.
Once again we were stunned at Belizean "justice" especially since the 2007 Violence against Women Act specifically grants protection to women like our teacher who are no longer cohabiting but are being abused. And, turning over the small child unsupervised was questionable at best.
I tried to talk with the magistrate but had to get back to the school. Dr. Kim Shackelford a visiting professor in Social Work from the University of Mississippi stayed with the teacher to await the Magistrate's order. She was told that the magistrate did not "appreciate" my questioning his order and that no retraining order could be granted to persons who had not lived together in 3 years (my teacher left her ex almost a year and a half ago). The time line was quickly changed to be 'hadn't lived together in one year' - UGH again!!
Later on Thursday Vernon and I were interview by one the national TV station and appeared on the evening news.
Friday morning, May 22 Dr. Shackelford and I appeared on the local radio talk show to discuss abuse against women and children. I had also invited the police officer who heads the Domestic Violence Unit but she refused to appear with us. Once again the outpouring of support and the sharing of similar personal stories was incredible!
Later that morning the teacher and I went to Belize City, met with our attorney and applied to the Belize Family Court for the protection order and stay of visitation. Both were quickly granted. Hearing is set for Wednesday. Upon returning to San Pedro, the teacher and I with two other witnesses presented the restraining order to the Officer in Charge at the Police Station.
This Wednesday there will also be a rally at the San Pedro Town Park with all local schools participating. We will parade under the banner, "Justice for All.".