Colombia: five dead in riots after police blunder

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BOGOTA | Five people were killed Wednesday in Bogota during the violent riots that broke out in Colombia after the death of a man victim of a police blunder, whose video had been broadcast on social networks.

A reward was offered by the Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo to who will allow “the arrest of the perpetrators of the homicide of five people during this violent day” in the Colombian capital and the neighboring town of Soacha.

The scene of the arrest broadcast on social media, in which the man on the ground and witnesses begged the police to stop brutalizing him, shocked the country.

Colombia: five dead in riots after police blunder

The nearly two-minute footage shows two helmeted Colombian police bikers bringing 46-year-old lawyer Javier Ordoñez to the ground and then repeatedly giving him long shocks with their electric pulse pistols.

“Please stop,” we hear the man on the ground repeating. Witnesses to the scene also called out to the police: “Please stop, we are filming you” with a cell phone.

According to Bogota’s chief of police, Colonel Necton Borja, the officers were dispatched after a disorder caused by “alcoholic people” and Javier Ordoñez tried “to hit the police” before being knocked down.

The colonel estimated that the victim “was subjected to a non-lethal weapon” before being transported to the police station where she presented “medical complications”.

Colombia: five dead in riots after police blunder

Taken to hospital, Javier Ordoñez, father of two, died shortly after.

The mayor of Bogota, Claudia Lopez, considered that it is a “police abuse”. On Twitter, she called for “an exemplary sentence” against the police and called for “a deep and serious restructuring within the police force”.

The Minister of Defense told the press that “the two agents are already the subject of a disciplinary and criminal investigation”.

“Painful events”

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered to protest outside the police station where the victim was taken before he died.

The demonstrators sprayed the facade of the building with red paint and threw stones, chanting “resistance”, an AFP journalist noted.

Police attempted to disperse the crowd with stun grenades and tear gas, but protests spread to other areas of Bogota.

Colombia: five dead in riots after police blunder

Local media reported riots, fires and attacks against a dozen police stations in the north and west of the capital. Riots also occurred in Medellín (north-west), Cali (south-west) and Neiva (center).

President Iván Duque deplored “the abuses (…) committed by members of the public force”. “We have seen painful events today,” said the head of state, calling for “appropriate sanctions to be adopted”.

Colombian police have in the past been implicated in several violence scandals.

Colombia: five dead in riots after police blunder

In November 2019, Dilan Cruz, an 18-year-old young man who was participating in an anti-government demonstration, was fatally wounded in the head by a packet of lead balls fired by a special forces agent. In August 2011, a street artist, Diego Becerra, was shot dead while painting graffiti in Bogota.

The UN warned at the end of February of the killings and other alleged abuses committed by soldiers and police in Colombia.

Alberto Brunori, representative in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, noted that in 13 cases of death involving state agents, “it was observed” use ” unnecessary and / or disproportionate force ”.

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