Killings by police up 18% this year in Rio

Police killed 517 people from January to September

Published in 21/10/2015 - 16:51 By Vitor Abdala reports from Agência Brasil - Rio de Janeiro

Moradores e policiais da Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP), entram em confronto, durante protesto no morro Pavão-Pavãozinho, pela morte do dançarino Douglas Rafael da Silva (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Residents and police from the Police Pacifying Unit (UPP) clash during a protest in the Morro Pavão-Pavãozinho against the death of dancer Douglas Rafael da Silva.  Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

Deaths caused by the Rio de Janeiro police rose 18% this year from last year. Data released by the Public Security Institute (ISP) reveal that the police killed 517 people from January to September this year, 79 more than the same period in 2014.

Such cases are classified at police stations under “resisting arrest” (“auto de resistência”, in the original Portuguese), which means that the officer reports he/she acted in self-defense. Specialists believe the public security policy is to blame, which fuels the war between the police and criminals, with no concern for the origin of crime.

O corpo do dançarino Douglas Rafael Silva foi sepultado na tarde do dia 24 no Cemitério São João Batista, zona sul da cidade, sob muitos aplausos e aos gritos de "justiça" e "polícia assassina"

The body of dancer Douglas Rafael Silva is buried at the São João Batista cemetery amidst applause and cries for justice.  Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil

According to Samira Bueno, director at the Brazilian Public Security Forum, this war policy also takes its toll on the police themselves. From January to September this year, 21 police were killed in action in Rio de Janeiro state, five more than the same period last year.

“This is somehow part of the organizational culture in which confronting the criminal is seen as a means to curb crime,” she declared.

Samira Bueno maintains that this behavior has claimed a high number of victims. “If we do not think of a new model for public security, if we do not start bringing our drug policy back into discussion, we'll hardly become capable of ensuring the lives of our security agents,” she argued.

Rio de Janeiro - Protesto na favela da Rocinha marca os dois anos de desaparecimento do ajudante de pedreiro Amarildo de Souza, ocorrido em 14 de julho de 2013, durante uma operação policial.

A demonstration is staged in Favela da Rocinha, in memory of bricklayer Amarildo de Souza, who disappeared two years ago during a police operation. Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil 

Death at the UPP

In May last year, Johnatha de Oliveira, 19, was killed by the police at the Police Pacifying Unit (UPP) in the Manguinhos district, north Rio. The officers claimed the youth was shooting at the police when he was killed. His family, however, said he was not bearing any weapons and had just left home when the police started shooting.

The young man's death was investigated and its perpetrators identified. Nonetheless, nearly a year and a half later, the case is still in its pre-trial stage. “I want the person who took my son's life to pay for it. My son had his whole life ahead of him. He had dreams that were taken away from him by a public security police for which there's no room for life in the favelas,” said Johnatha's mother Ana Paula Oliveira.

Jovens protestam contra a aprovação da proposta de emenda à Constituição (PEC) que prevê a redução da maioridade penal em passeata no centro do Rio (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Youths rally in downtown Rio against the constitutional amendment bill which lowers the age of criminal responsibility. Agência Brasil/ Fernando Frazão

In a note, the state's Secretariat for Public Security announced that preservation of life is a priority, for which reason they have awarded members of battalions that have managed to reduce “lethal violence” levels, an indicator which takes into consideration homicides, theft followed by murder, body injuries followed by death, and also the cases filed under “resisting arrest”.

Also according to the government agency, a variety of steps have been taken in a bid to cut down the number of killings during confrontations, like using a lower number of rifles, the creation of the Training Center on the Progressive Use of Force, directed at police agents, and the Homicide Division, which probes into all deaths resulting from police intervention.


*Tâmara Freire, a reporter from Radiojornalismo, contributed to this article.

Translated by Fabrício Ferreira


Fonte: Killings by police up 18% this year in Rio

Edition: José Romildo / Nira Foster

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