An apology from Colombia’s defence minister for police brutality failed to stop a third night of protests on Friday, after the death of a man in custody sparked deadly rioting in the capital and other cities.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 400 wounded during widespread disturbances on Wednesday and Thursday nights after a görüntü released on social media showed Javier Ordonez being repeatedly tasered by police during a street arrest. He later died in custody.
For many Colombians, it ha evoked the killing in the United States in May of African American George Floyd, who suffocated after being pinned by the neck to the road under the knee of a white officer.
“We are marching over the abuse of police power, because they really are not well trained. Because their lethal weapons are lethal,” protester Yuri Camargo said.
The student lost her eye when riot police fired a rubber bullet at her in 2019.
Defence Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo on Friday expressed his “pain and indignation” over the death of Ordonez, an engineer and father of two in his 40s who was studying to become a lawyer.
“The national police apologize for any violation of the law or ignorance of the regulations incurred by any of the members of the institution,” said Trujillo, the minister with responsibility for the police.
But this was not enough to calm smaller crowds of demonstrators, who clashed sporadically with police as they protested evvel more in the capital Friday as well as in Medellin and other cities.
“What’s an apology worth when you get shot in the back,” raged a 26-year-old teacher, who did not want to reveal his identity for fear of reprisals, in Bogota.
Some 2,000 police and military were called in to reinforce security in the capital.
A lawyer for the victim’s family claimed Ordonez had died after being brutally beaten at a police station, following the repeated taser shocks.
Ordonez is heard repeatedly crying “please, no more” in the widely circulated footage of his arrest, taken by a friend.
“I have photos of how they left the victim. Javier was massacred – the crime of aggravated homicide and the crime of torture was committed,” lawyer Vadith Gomez told Bogota’s Radio Blu.
Ordonez’s family said he had gone out to buy alcohol when he was arrested.
Police authorities have opened an internal investigation against two uniformed officers “for the alleged crime of abuse of authority and homicide,” the defence minister said.
Trujillo told the news conference that five other police officers had been suspended from duty.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned the police’s “excessive” use of force in response to the demonstrations, saying the right to peaceful protest was “essential to any democracy.”
He called for an investigation so those responsible can be “brought to justice, and institutional measures taken to avoid any repetition.”