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Vasquez Family vs. Belize Police Department

Vasquez Family vs. Belize Police Department
June 14
13:23 2019

A legal battle is brewing between the Vasquez family and the Belize Police Department (BPD) following the death of Nestor Vasquez Jr., 60. Vasquez died around 9:40 p.m., on June 8th due to multiple head injuries he sustained while in Police custody – at the hands of a mental health patient awaiting a charge of attempted murder.

Vasquez Jr. was the brother of media personality, Jules Vasquez, who on Monday confirmed that his brother died from blunt force trauma to the head. According to Vasquez, his brother had been mauled and mercilessly beaten to his head and face which were crushed. Vasquez additionally noted that all the injuries were concentrated from the neck area upward and due to the severity of them, there was no way his brother could have survived because of the extent of damage caused to his brain.

Vasquez Jr was injured on June 6th while he was detained in the same cell as mental health patient, Collin Francis, 28, at the Queen Street Police Station. Francis was being arraigned for the attempted murder of a nurse who he had stabbed on Tuesday at the Port Loyola Medical Health Center.
It is alleged that around 2:15 p.m., that day a fight broke out between the two men. When it was over, Vasquez Jr. was laid out on the cement, bleeding profusely from injuries he sustained to his head. Vasquez Jr. was transported to the hospital in an unconscious state but died two days later.

Jules Vasquez told the media his brother was displaying aggressive behavior and was refusing to take his medication and so family members decided to have Police detain him. Vasquez Jr was detained on Monday and was taken to the Port Loyola Health Center where he was treated and taken into custody, with the understanding that he would be released on Tuesday. According to Jules Vasquez that never happened and when his brother was released on Thursday morning he went to the Channel 7 office where he again displayed aggressive behavior and was subsequently taken back into Police custody.

According to Vasquez after explaining his brother’s condition to the on-duty officers, his brother was placed in the juvenile cellblock but was later removed when he came under threat. He was then placed inside the cell with Francis. According to Jules Vasquez, he believed that it was a deliberate act on the part of the officers to place his brother inside a cell with another mental patient who showed violent tendencies and was accused of stabbing a nurse for no reason – “Francis was in that cell alone and he was in there for a reason and they pushed my brother in there for a reason. He resisted twice. There were other cells available. I do believe that their motive was – ‘Oh you wah play crazy, go play crazy with he.’ He is psychotic (Francis) and we know what happened next. They failed in their duty of care. They put my brother deliberately in harm’s way.”

And for that action which caused the death of their loved one, the Vasquez family, through their attorney, has expressed the intent to sue the department for the heinous act.

Earlier that morning the Commissioner of Police Chester Williams expressed his condemnation for the negligent behavior exercised by Executive Duty Officer, Sergeant Shawn Walton and Police Constables Edward Pitterson and Bernard Cayetano who breached the cell block protocols and placed the two mental patients in one cell.

“I am disgusted by what happened. I always say that we must do things in such a way that we avoid liability and as an attorney myself, I can see a lawsuit and if it is that the Vasquez family should decide to sue, my advice would be to get it over with. There is no need to prolong the matter. The Police messed up and we must pay, simple as that.”

The three officers have all been interdicted from their duties on half pay pending the completion of both a criminal and internal investigation. The Police Department is also reviewing its protocols surrounding the detention of mental health patient and is considering padding their cellblock walls.

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