Rio police with a body shot from a helicopter

Footage of Rio de Janeiro police shooting at people from helicopters, then laughing among dead bodies, has drawn condemnation, offering further evidence that extrajudicial killings remain a serious issue in Brazil.

The first video, obtained by Globo television and published last week, shows a police helicopter chasing a convicted drug trafficker though the streets of the Coreia favela, one of Rio's largest slums. After the suspect gets into a car the helicopter opens fire, spraying the car as well as surrounding houses with bullets.

In the second video, obtained by newspaper Extra, also part of Globo's network, officers are seen firing on the Rola favela in the city's West Zone before laughing and congratulating each other amongst dead bodies in a bar. Another body in a house next door is moved to the bar when officers realize the victim was unarmed.

Five people died in total during the Rola operation, reported Extra, two of whom had no criminal record. All five deaths were recorded as "acts of resistance," a term used by police to describe a suspect's death during a confrontation with officers.

Rio police chief Martha Rocha said an investigation had been opened, while Brazil's Human Rights Minister, Maria do Rosario Nunes, condemned the actions and ordered Rio de Janeiro governor Sergio Cabral to hold those responsible to account. The government announced it would offer support to Rio state to abolish so-called "resistance" killings.

InSight Crime Analysis

Extrajudicial killings have long been an issue within Brazil's police force, most notoriously the killings of hundreds of street children revealed by Amnesty International in 1990. Official government statistics revealed in a 2009 investigation by US NGO Human Rights Watch showed more than 11,000 people had been killed by Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo police since 2003 - one death for every 23 people arrested in 2008, compared to the US police average of one death per 37,000 people arrested. Last month eight São Paulo police were arrested following the release of video footage showing the fatal shooting of two teenagers who had surrendered.

 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...