Couple brutally beaten in Placencia, one Suspect is Dead Print
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00

Twenty seven year-old Tyson Rodriguez, a Dangriga resident who was the main suspect in the home invasion of a Canadian couple in Placencia, has died while in the custody of Placencia Police. The direct consequence of his sudden demise has triggered the Commissioner of Police to order an investigation into the circumstances of his demise.

A 59 year-old Canadian man and his 61 year-old wife were at their home at the Plantation area on last week Thursday night, and at around 8 p.m., 3 dark-skinned men ambushed, savagely beat them into submission and forced them to allow the assailants entrance into their house. The wife suffered a broken jaw and multiple facial injuries almost disfiguring her. The husband’s head was dunked under water several times; he almost drowned. The men then burglarized the house and escaped with the couple’s white GMC SUV speeding down toward the Southern Highway.

Placencia police, as immediately as they responded the call for help, alerted all police formations of the home invasion, and the stolen vehicle, and surveillance and response teams were deployed. 13 and a half hours after the burglary, Corozal Police and Customs Patrol spotted the vehicle, which had its license plates removed, on the Chan Chen Road, over 200 miles away from where it was stolen.

When they finally managed to get close to the vehicle and recover it, the two men who were inside had already dumped it, and they fled on foot. The investigating teams combed the surrounding area and saw one of the men who they believe was in the vehicle. That man was waiting at the Xaibe Bus stop, and as soon as he saw the officers coming he tried to run away, but with the help of Xaibe villagers, police caught him. He was later identified as Tyson Rodriguez, the Dangriga resident who had a run-in with San Pedro Police last year after one of the officers shot him, reportedly in self-defence.

Police transported the stolen vehicle and Tyson back to Placencia where he was to be questioned, and charged when the officers got enough evidence. On Friday night, 26 hours after the robbery took place, police say that he started to cooperate with the investigation while he was being interviewed by CIB personnel. He reportedly agreed to take them to where some of the stolen items were located, and he was placed in the pan of the police mobile.

All this time, police had been performing exceptionally while dealing with the crime and subsequent 200-mile chase, but at this point, the details provided do not inspire total confidence in the decisions taken by the officers. They reported to their commanding officer, Inspector Mark Flowers, that while he was being transported to the location where the loot was being hidden, Rodriguez, who had his hands cuffed at his back, jumped out of the moving vehicle in the vicinity of the Chabil Mar area and ran into the bushes in an attempt to escape.

These officers say that a few minutes later, they didn’t want to chase after him the way he went, so they went around a different area to cut him off on the beach, only to find him floating in the water, apparently drowned. They say that they didn’t see him after he escaped, and the next time they caught sight of him, he was dead. Inspector Flowers has told the media that this explanation of the events does not satisfy him as an OC because the proper response should have been that they immediately go after him to catch him, not to try to cut him off, losing sight of him for a few minutes.

Rodriguez’s family totally rejects the police version of events when it comes to his death. They believe that the officers who had him in their custody killed him and are now trying to cover it up. A post mortem conducted by Dr. Mario Estradabran today certified that he died due to “asphyxiation by bronchial aspiration (of) sand –beach type and multiple trauma to chest – trauma type.” The family says that the post-mortem shows clearly that Rodriguez was beaten and his head was held in the sand until he inhaled sand and died of suffocation. They have hired attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd and they intend to pursue legal action against the police department for Rodriguez’s death.

In the meantime, Commissioner Allen Whylie has ordered a criminal and an internal investigation into the role of the police officers who had Rodriguez in their custody. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, will advise police based on the evidence found, if the officers should be criminally charged.

Placencia police have one man detained, and they are seeking another in connection with the home invasion of the Canadian couple. That investigation – and the good work of the quick response teams –should have been the spotlight of the narrative. Those positive aspects now sit in the shadow of the investigations into the death of Tyson Rodriguez, the man who police say was the main suspect in that burglary.