Brazilian police beat a man to death in the trunk of a car, video shows

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The video It begins with three highway police officers who suspend a man on a dirt road in northeastern Brazil.

After a wound, the man’s legs are shown being beaten as two officers corner him inside a police hatchback. White smoke can be seen rising from the car.

A voice from behind the camera says, “Look at the guy over there, my God.” “They’re killing him inside the car.”

Ginvaldo de Jesus Santos, 38, died by the time police took him to hospital on Wednesday, according to his relatives. He was defenseless and suffering from schizophrenia when the Federal Highway Police killed him with lethal gases on the side of the road, according to his nephew, who said he was at the scene.

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Even in a place that has long been used to killing police, the video, which went viral on social media, sparked terror and anger across Brazil.

“He told the police all the time that he had a heart problem, that he had mental problems,” his nephew, Wallison de Jesus, told the Washington Post. They continued to torture and told everyone to stay away.

The Brazilian Federal Police released a statement on Thursday saying it was investigating the death of Santos in the city of Umbauba, in the northeastern state of Sergipe. In a separate statement, the Federal Highway Police said it would cooperate with investigative authorities and had already suspended the officers involved in the accident.

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The video has sparked protests in Santos’ hometown and calls for justice across Brazil, where police are notorious for ferocious raids – encouraged by far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as part of his populist crime-fighting agenda.

On Tuesday, the day before Santos died, At least 21 people died During a police operation in Rio de Janeiro. It was one of the deadliest raids in recent years, but it was the latest in a long list of such operations.

Santos was black, according to Brazilian news reports, and his death also sparked outrage over the police’s history of discrimination and disproportionate use of force against black men.

“There is no way out for Brazil that is not built on ensuring the lives of the black population,” said Douglas Belchior, a member of an activist group called the Brazilian Black Movement Delegation.

Lucas Rosario, a spokesman for the Public Security Secretariat in Sergipe, which oversees the state police, declined to comment on the authenticity of the video. She said Santos family members presented the video as evidence when they filed a police report on Wednesday.

“The pictures are just shocking,” said Samira Bueno, executive director of the non-governmental Brazilian Forum for Public Safety. “He’s a psychopath, and it’s your story of you using a car as a gas chamber to immobilize anyone.”

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Sergipe’s Institute of Forensic Medicine, whose autopsies were performed outside, said Thursday that Santos died of suffocation but could not determine the “direct cause” of death.

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Santos’ nephew told The Post he saw police throw a tear gas canister into the car.

Rosario said the source of the gas seen gushing from the car was under investigation.

Eyewitnesses and policemen gave contradictory accounts.

Officers said Santos “actively resisted” the police as they approached, According to a statement issued WednesdayAnd that he “sickened” while being taken to the police station.

De Jesus, his nephew, said the police stopped his uncle, who was riding a motorcycle, and asked him to lift his shirt. Santos began to feel nervous after police found packages of his medication. His nephew said he informed police officers of his uncle’s mental health condition and that he requested this medication.

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“Then the torture session started,” de Jesus said.

His nephew said the police grabbed Santos by the arms, kicked his legs and knocked him to the ground. After hitting him on the ground, de Jesus said, officers tied his legs and threw him into the car with a tear gas canister.

Santos’ wife, Maria Fabiana dos Santos, G1 . said That her husband had been suffering from schizophrenia for two decades but was never violent.

“I lived with him for 17 years,” she said. “He never attacked anyone, he never did anything wrong, he always did the right thing. And in a moment like this, they caught him and did what they did.”

Ronaldo Cardoso da Silva, a local teacher and social worker, told The Washington Post that he was Santos’ friend. Cardoso da Silva said he has survived Social Security benefits and occasional individual jobs, occasionally driving a rickshaw and letting cash-strapped passengers ride for free.

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About 6,000 Brazilians died after being deliberately shot by police officers while on duty in 2020. According to the data From the Observatory on the Use of Deadly Force in Latin America, a consortium of researchers and academics from the region.

Bolsonaro called on criminals to “die in the streets like cockroaches” and said that police who kill criminals “should be awarded honors, not prosecuted.”

José Luis Raton, Professor of Criminal Studies at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil, said that the increase in violent raids in recent years targeting the “socially vulnerable” has been fueled by the authorities… who encourage and reinforce violent, disorderly and uncontrolled police action in the name of “fighting crime.” “. “

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