Minister condemns police shooting of minor

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2011 4:30 PM
Minister condemns police shooting of minor

The Brazilian minister for human rights has called for 'rigorous punishment' of the police officers caught on tape shoving around and shooting an unarmed 14-year-old boy.

Minister Maria do Rosario Nunes issued an official statement Thursday condemning the August 2010 attack on the minor in Manaus, capital of Amazonas state.

A video given to Brazilian television stations by a witness shows five police officers surrounding the teenager. The boy is backed up against a wall and pushed around by the men. Eventually they pull out their guns and take shots at him.

According to the state prosecutor's office, the boy was hit five times. One of the shots pierced his lung, but he recovered after 10 days in the hospital.

"The images speak for themselves," said Nunes in her statement. "The teenager, surrounded by five officers, without any possibility of defending himself or escaping, was the victim of a cowardly attack and shooting."

Nunes said the film reveals the "bad faith" of the officers involved because the images contradict their police report.

The state prosecutor in charge of the case, Joao Bosco Valente, said the officers alleged they were questioning the teenager about a gun connected to a shooting in the neighborhood.

Calls on Friday to the Manaus police were not returned.

The state department of public safety on Thursday issued arrest warrants for the five officers and for two others who witnessed the attack. By Friday six were under arrest, and the seventh was being sought, according to G1, Globo TV's website.

Neither the victim nor the suspects have been identified.

The boy's family has entered a witness protection program. Relatives hesitated to pursue charges at first because they feared retaliation from police, Valente said.