- “The National Police apologizes for any violation of the law by officers,” said defense minister.
- 200 police officers are among those who sustained injuries.
- President Ivan Duque stated that all deaths during the protests will be thoroughly investigated.
At least 10 people have been killed and over 400 others injured following protests in several cities in Colombia. Thousands of people are said to have filled the streets to protest the death of a man in police custody on Tuesday night. A video that went viral showed a man pinned down as police shot him repeatedly using a stun gun.
In the video the lawyer, a father of two is heard pleading for mercy when he says “Please, no more, I’m suffocating”. The video was posted by his friends who were with him at the time of the arrest. The 46 year-old, Javier Ordonez was pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital.
The family alleges that he might have undergone more torture while in police custody that led to his untimely death. According to the police, the man had violated the set coronavirus regulation on social distancing by drinking in the open with his friends.
The country has been under lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic for six months and had started easing the restrictions two weeks ago.
The protesters who were demanding justice for the man ended up clashing with the police officer hence the fatalities and injuries. Police were forced to use tear gas on the protesters and even beat them as the demonstrators attacked the police using stones.
A total of 17 police kiosks were torched during the protests. According to authorities, 200 police officers are among those who sustained injuries. Most of the protests took place in Bogota but have since spread to other cities.
Protesters decried police brutality saying that they were tired of being harassed and asked for bribes.
The unrest has forced the defense minister to apologize to the public on behalf of the police. “The National Police apologizes for any violation of the law or ignorance of regulations by any members of the institution,” said Carlos Holmes Trujillo, the defense minister. Following the incident, two officers have already been charged while five other have been suspended. Bogota’s mayor Claudia Lopez said that the police were not authorized to use force during the protests.
The mayor condemned the violence by protesters adding that it won’t solve anything instead calling for calm. The director of Human Rights Watch, Americas division Jose Miguel Vivanco condemned police brutality on protesters stating that every citizen had a right to demonstrate. Analysts in the country have also condemned the excessive use of force warning it is likely to send the wrong message to the citizens.
President Ivan Duque stated that abuse by the country’s security personnel will not be tolerated adding that all deaths during the protests will be thoroughly investigated. Deaths during protests are not uncommon in the country. In 2019, a teenage demonstrator was killed after being hit by a teargas canister during the anti-government protests.