In broad daylight, police in Brazil stuffed a man with learning difficulties into an improvised gas chamber, killing him immediately. His name was Genivaldo de Jesus Santos and the story is causing a storm of outrage in Brazil, tweeted MintPress writer Alan MacLeod.
Genivaldo de Jesus Santos, 38, died of mechanical asphyxia and acute respiratory failure after a violent approach by the Federal Highway Police (“PRF”) on Wednesday, 25 May. The PRF is responsible for road safety and repression of crimes on federal highways. The man did not resist after being arrested by two police officers and was put inside a kind of “gas chamber” mounted in the boot (or trunk) of the PRF vehicle.
The Legal Medical Institute (“IML”) report stated that the causes of death were mechanical asphyxia and acute respiratory failure.
According to witnesses, de Jesus Santos was approached during a traffic stop on the highway, while riding a motorcycle. Images from a video recorded by a person who witnessed the scene show that the action begins with three agents who launch themselves on the man, in an attempt to immobilise him when they find a pack of medicines on him.
“The order to stop was given, he stopped, put the motorcycle on the tripod and obeyed all the commands that the policeman gave. The policeman told him to lift his shirt, and he did and told the policeman that he had medicine and prescription in the pocket, indicating that he had mental problems”, explained the victim’s nephew, Wallisson de Jesus.
The warnings, however, did not seem to influence the agents, who positioned themselves over the man who had fallen to the ground. After a while, the PRF agents threw de Jesus Santos into the boot of the police vehicle. Through the cracks of the half-closed boot door, smoke can be seen escaping while de Jesus Santos’ legs dangle in desperation as he screams inside the car.
As soon as Santos stopped struggling and screaming, the police closed the boot door, got into the vehicle and left the scene.
Warning: distressing footage
The incident sparked a protest in the Brazilian city of Umbaúba where it had occurred.
A local cartoonist responded to the story:
By Rhoda Wilson