Apparent Extrajudicial Execution in Mexico Adds to the Growing List

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A video of what appears to be a series of extrajudicial killings by a Mexican police officer in the border city of Reynosa is yet another example of how a combination of frustration with inefficient justice systems, a lack of resources, corruption and little oversight are helping to foster a regional epidemic of security force abuses.

In the video, which was apparently taken with a cellular phone, a Chevrolet Equinox appears immobilized after crashing against a concrete wall. No voices can be heard from inside the car as a policeman approaches the driver side. He says nothing before firing four shots at point-blank range.

“He’s finishing them off,” the person filming says in a calm and even tone.

The melee apparently began when suspects allegedly opened fire against a Tamaulipas-based task force after they were stopped, reported El Debate. This led to a car chase that ended a couple of blocks away in the Equinox crashing against the concrete wall.

Three of the passengers were still alive until the officer shot and killed them, El Debate reported. Security officials said they recovered several assault rifles, magazines, and tactical gear from the car.

Video Courtesy of El Universal

“Internal Affairs of the Department of Security of Tamaulipas has started its review and analysis to understand and determine what steps to take,” the state government said in a statement, according to Animal Político.

InSight Crime Analysis

There is more to the story, of course. The video is only 28 seconds. But at first glance, it appears to be yet another instance of security forces extrajudicially killing suspects. Other recent examples have taken place in Brazil and El Salvador

Why does this happen? There are many reasons. Police in Brazil, for example, say they are outgunned, but they are also abusive. Others cite frustrations with inefficient justice systems. Meanwhile, corruption and criminal penetration of the security forces is common, and governments spend little resources on regulatory and oversight agencies given the challenges they face on the battlefield and in the courtrooms.  

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In some places, such as El Salvador, vigilantism may be the unspoken state policy, in part because it often receives widespread public support. According to El Debate’s article online poll, 73 percent of nearly 3,800 readers said the police officers in the execution video should not be sanctioned.

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