The death by suffocation of a black man held in a police vehicle with a “gas chamber” sparks outrage in Brazil

A screenshot from a video widely shared on social media allegedly shows Brazilian Federal Police in Umbauba, in the northeastern state of Sergipe, holding the trunk of their closed truck over the legs of 38-year-old Genivaldo de Jesus Santos. , who was detained during a traffic stop. as smoke billows from the rear of the vehicle. Police said de Jesus Santos died of asphyxiation.


Rio de Janeiro — Death by suffocation of a black man shown in a video being held by two Brazilian Federal Highway Police officers inside the smoke-filled trunk of an SUV is sparking outrage among Brazilians. Footage from Tuesday’s police arrest in Umbauba, in the northeastern state of Sergipe, shows officers forcibly restraining Genivaldo de Jesús Santos, 38, in the back of his police vehicle as a dense cloud of smoke target, which appears to be tear gas, comes out of the SUV.

The man can be heard screaming and his legs, which are sticking out of the truck, kick for a while, until they finally stop moving. The officers seem undisturbed by the bystanders around them.

Social networks exploded over the images, and dozens of people gathered to protest Wednesday in Umbauba, where they blocked a road and burned tires.

“The population is outraged,” a man can be heard saying in a video of the protest posted on Twitter. “They murdered the guy!” another told the crowd through a loudspeaker.

In a statement, the Federal Highway Police said the man had displayed aggressive behavior and was “actively resisting” the officers who detained him. Agents restrained him, the statement said, and then used “instruments of lesser offensive potential” to restrain him.

The statements say that Santos became ill while being transferred to a police station and was taken to a hospital, where his death was confirmed.

A preliminary autopsy concluded the man died of respiratory failure due to “mechanical asphyxiation,” George Fernandes, a spokesman for the Sergipe state forensic institute, told The Associated Press.

Santos’ nephew, Alisson de Jesus, told local outlet FANF 1 that he saw police detain his uncle and that de Jesus Santos told officers he had medication and a prescription in his pockets, indicating he was in trouble. mental health, before they began what the nephew described as “a torture session.”

“They took my uncle, they put him inside the vehicle and they took a gas pump out of him and they closed the trunk with him inside,” he said. De Jesus said his uncle was punched and pushed by officers before they restrained him in the back of their truck.

FANF 1 reported Thursday night that five officers involved in the incident had been suspended pending an investigation.

The Guardian The newspaper cited statistics from the Brazilian Forum of Public Security showing that police killed 6,416 people in Brazil in 2020, almost 80% of them black. Many activists pointed out on social media that de Jesús Santos died in police custody exactly one day before the second anniversary of the death. assassination of george floyd by officers in Minnesota, sparking global protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Exploring changes in policing one year after Daunte Wright’s murder


“The policemen turned a car into a gas chamber and executed a mental patient,” said local politician and human rights activist Renata Souza. On twitter. “There are no words in the face of such inhumanity. Brazil is an extermination camp!”

The incident “shocked Brazilian society at the level of its brutality, exposing the institution’s lack of preparation to ensure that its agents obey basic procedures,” the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, an independent group, said in a statement.

President Jair Bolsonaro said that he would find out from the Federal Highway Police what happened. He also mentioned a separate incident two weeks ago when a man shot two highway officers on duty.

The Federal Police opened an investigation. The forensic institute must present its most complete final report to the Federal Police within 10 days.

The incident comes a few days after highway police officers participated in an operation in Rio de Janeiro that left more than 20 dead. Police have said they had no choice but to use deadly force, but residents’ accounts published in local media have cast doubt on that claim.

Add Comment