RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A bloody, hourslong gunbattle in a Rio de Janeiro slum echoed into Friday, with authorities saying the police mission efficiently eradicated two dozen criminals, whereas residents and activists claimed human rights abuses.
It was simply after dawn Thursday when dozens of officers from Rio de Janeiro state’s civil police stormed Jacarezinho, a working-class favela within the metropolis’s northern zone. They have been concentrating on drug traffickers from one among Brazil’s most infamous felony organizations, Comando Vermelho, and the our bodies piled up rapidly.
When the preventing stopped, there have been 25 lifeless — one police officer and 24 folks described by the police as “criminals.”
Rio’s moniker of “Marvelous Metropolis” can typically appear a merciless irony within the favelas, given their stark poverty, violent crime and subjugation to drug traffickers or militias. However even right here, Thursday’s conflict was a jarring anomaly that analysts declared one of many metropolis’s deadliest police operations ever.
The bloodshed additionally laid naked Brazil’s perennial divide over whether or not, as a standard native saying goes, “ felony is a lifeless felony.” Fervent law-and-order sentiment fueled the profitable presidential run in 2018 by Jair Bolsonaro, a former military captain whose house is in Rio. He drew assist from a lot of society along with his calls to decrease authorized constraints on officers’ use of deadly pressure in opposition to criminals.
The administration of Rio state’s Gov. Cláudio Castro, a Bolsonaro ally, mentioned in an emailed assertion that it lamented the deaths, however that the operation was “oriented by lengthy and detailed investigative and intelligence work that took months.”
The raid sought to rout gang recruitment of youngsters, police mentioned in an earlier assertion, which additionally cited Comando Vermelho’s “warlike construction of troopers geared up with rifles, grenades, bulletproof vests.”
Tv pictures confirmed a police helicopter flying low over the Jacarezinho favela as males with high-powered rifles hopped from roof to roof to evade officers.
Others didn’t escape.
One resident advised The Related Press how a person barged into her humble residence round 8 a.m. bleeding from a gunshot wound. He hid in her daughter’s room, however police got here speeding in proper behind him.
She mentioned that she and her household noticed officers shoot the unarmed man.
Hours later, his blood was nonetheless pooled on her tile flooring and soaked right into a blanket embellished with hearts.
About 50 residents of Jacarezinho poured right into a slim road to comply with members of the state legislature’s human rights fee who carried out an inspection following the shootouts. They shouted “Justice!” whereas clapping their arms. Some raised their proper fists into the air.
Felipe Curi, a detective in Rio’s civil police, denied there have been any executions.
“There have been no suspects killed. They have been all traffickers or criminals who tried to take the lives of our law enforcement officials and there was no different different,” he mentioned at a information convention.
Curi mentioned some suspects had sought refuge in residents’ properties, and 6 of them have been arrested. Police additionally seized 16 pistols, six rifles, a submachine gun, 12 grenades and a shotgun, he mentioned.
Bolsonaro’s son Carlos, a Rio metropolis councilman who’s influential on social media, supported police. He expressed condolences to the household of the fallen officer on Twitter, whereas skipping any point out of the opposite 24 lifeless or their households. The president didn’t consult with the incident in any respect Thursday night time in his weekly reside broadcast on Fb.
Bolsonaro’s political rival, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, mentioned any operation that produces two dozen deaths doesn’t qualify as public safety.
“That’s the absence of the federal government that provides training and jobs, the reason for quite a lot of violence,” mentioned da Silva, who’s extensively anticipated to mount a problem to Bolsonaro’s reelection bid subsequent 12 months.
The Brazilian divisions of worldwide advocacy teams Human Rights Watch and Amnesty Worldwide urged public prosecutors to completely examine the operation.
“Even when the victims have been suspected of felony affiliation, which has not been confirmed, abstract executions of this type are completely unjustifiable,” mentioned Jurema Werneck, Amnesty’s govt director in Brazil.
The Rio state prosecutors’ workplace mentioned in an announcement to the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that it could examine accusations of violence, including that the case required a probe that’s unbiased from police.
Brazil’s Supreme Courtroom issued a ruling final 12 months prohibiting police operations in Rio’s favelas throughout the pandemic except “completely distinctive.”
The order got here after police fatally shot a 14-year-old in a house the place there was no indication of any criminal activity. The teenager’s loss of life sparked a Brazilian iteration of Black Lives Matter protests held throughout the town’s metropolitan space for weeks.
The ruling, which stays in pressure, prompted a decline in police operations all through the center of final 12 months, as mirrored by a plunge within the variety of shootouts reported by Crossfire, a non-governmental group that screens violence, and in official state information on deaths ensuing from police intervention. However each indicators have crept again as much as round pre-pandemic ranges.
The Candido Mendes College’s Public Security Observatory mentioned Rio police killed a mean of greater than 5 folks a day throughout the first quarter of 2021, essentially the most deadly begin of a 12 months because the state authorities started often releasing such information greater than 20 years in the past.
Related Press author Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo and AP producer Diarlei Rodrigues in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.