Police spokeswoman issues public apology to Pataos; acting chief says he will not tolerate mistreatment of elders

Berlyn Savella

Police officer Berlyn Savella, spokeswoman for the Guam Police Department, issued a public apology to an elderly couple, one of whom alleges a Dededo police precinct officer assaulted her while she was under arrest.

Two Thursdays ago, Veronica Patao, 65, of Yigo said that while being held against her will in an interview room at the precinct, an officer whose badge read “Pangelinan” became so enraged by her refusal to sign a paper he pushed the table in front of her toward her. The table, she said, hit her breasts. Soon after she regained consciousness from a seizure she suffered. She was on the floor.

Both she and her husband, John Patao, who was being held in an adjacent room, said officers were snickering, claiming she was faking the incident, and did not call for medics until nearly half an hour later.

Ms. Patao, in a secret recording she took of part of the incident, can be heard telling the officer in the room that she has a heart condition. She said she also told him about her history of seizures and asked if she could at least retrieve her medications in the car outside.

“Let me be the first to give my heartfelt apology to the Pataos and the experience they endured,” Ms. Savella said.

The incident, much like the Red Jeep scandal of 2021 involving an off-duty and politically connected police officer, has earned public outcry, surfacing the issue of police brutality, corruption, and cover up.

Chris Barnett, the senator who has legislative oversight of the GPD, issued a public statement of concern following his review of an interview the Pataos gave to Kandit the weekend following the incident.

Ms. Savella said she also echoes a statement by Joseph Carbullido, the acting chief of police:

“No one ever expect to receive any allegations towards any officer as our officers are expected to uphold a higher standard. We want to assure you that we do not tolerate or condone the actions of any officer that may have mistreated the Patao’s to include the allegations of assault at the Dededo Precinct.

“If the allegations are proven to be true, we will take the proper disciplinary action as appropriate. It is important to remember that no one is above the law, and we are all accountable for our actions.” – Joseph Carbullido


  • Alan San Nicolas

      09/10/2023 at 6:37 AM

    Maolek-ña man gagao asi’i (despensasión, fangagao) ki taya. Lao kao u guaha aksión yanggen magahet ?

  • Thomas Hertslet

      09/10/2023 at 3:01 PM

    After two weeks Ms. Savella responded. Only after this awful incident was highlighted in the News Media she felt to respond.
    Then also with a very lame excuse, an off-duty officer???
    Why are no recordings of “ suspect “ interviews? This is the simplest way to start documenting a case for future investigations.

  • Jesse A.B. Camacho

      12/24/2023 at 5:50 AM

    Elderly abuse is a deeply concerning issue that violates the law and should be treated with utmost seriousness. It is imperative that the responsible officer, if proven guilty, faces the appropriate consequences as outlined by the legal system. The notion of incarceration should be strongly considered to ensure that justice is served and to send a clear message that such acts of abuse are unacceptable in any society.

    These allegations, if found to be true, indicate a severe breach of trust and a disregard for the well-being of vulnerable individuals. It is understandable that if these were one’s parents who suffered at the hands of such an officer, emotions would run high, and seeking retribution might seem like a natural response. However, it is crucial to let the legal process take its course to ensure a fair and just resolution.

    Furthermore, it is disheartening to see instances of elderly abuse, as it goes against the principles of respecting and treasuring our elders, which are fundamental values in many cultures. Our elderly citizens have contributed to society and deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion, and reverence. Preserving this aspect of our cultural identity is vital for the well-being of both current and future generations.

    Addressing the issue of corruption within the police force is also of significant importance. Chief Ignacio, as a leader, bears the responsibility to actively address and resolve any instances of corruption within the GPD. A thorough investigation and subsequent measures to ensure transparency, accountability, and integrity among officers will not only restore public trust but also serve as a deterrent to any future misconduct.

    In conclusion, the mistreatment of the elderly is an offense that should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Accountability, both for the officer involved and the institution itself, is essential to promote justice and protect the rights of vulnerable individuals.

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