With the brutal death of Paulo Nascimento at the hands of the Brazilian police force, fervent questions are being raised about the so-called lackadaisical practices of the country’s police force in meeting out its own form of justice to convicts! It doesn’t come as a surprise then to note that police officers in places like Sao Paulo kill one out of every 230 people that they arrest every year.
In the case of Paulo Nascimento, the police officers who killed him showed no kind of remorse whatsoever when they decided to deal with him their own way. Suspected for car theft, Nascimento was slapped, kicked and finally shot dead by four officers, all the while shouting “For the love of God!” as he eventually died after pleading for his life.
Like so many similar cases, Nascimento’s death would have been covered up as well if his neighbor (on conditions of anonymity) hadn’t recorded the entire episode and released it to a news channel which aired it the next day. Footage showing the brutal death of a citizen at the hands of the police force created a country wide furor, and murder charges were slapped on the four officers who killed him. The officers are currently waiting for their trial to begin in August, and have pleaded ‘not guilty’ for the act.
The incident shows how Brazil prefers to remain in the Third World in spite of the country’s praiseworthy developments in other fields. And the criminal justice system of Brazil which stands behind its’ so called ‘take few prisoners’ approach has put the country’s governing body in an embarrassing situation to deal with these unjustified shootings.
The governor of Sao Paulo has acknowledged the issue and has started taking reformatory measures to correct things, starting with the replacement of his security chief with a comparatively well-mannered lawyer. He has also guaranteed to take necessary action against these kinds of shootings, mentioning “we aren’t going to tolerate abuses on the part of the police.”
Another incident that occurred two months after Nascimento’s murder pressurized the Sao Paulo government to take immediate action against its police officers. According to reports, several police officers (they were later found out to belong to the same precinct as the officers who shot Nascimento) got together to form a squad (Brazil is famous for its ‘grupos de exterminio’ aka freelance death squads) that attacked a bar located very close to the area of the Nascimento shooting. Wearing ski masks, the officers rampaged the bar and killed seven people in addition to mortally wounding two more individuals.
One of the individuals who was shot dead in the encounter happened to be a rapper by the name of LaercioGrimas aka DJ Lah who who was known for the hit song ‘Click Clack Bang’ in which he warns individuals to not run from the police and mentions that they would never be pardoned. Initial rumors surfaced about DJ Lah being the source of the Nasciemento shooting video, and prosecutors believe that the rapper was targeted by the police for the same. However, further investigations revealed that DJ Lah was wrongly targeted by the police, as he had not made the video.
Following the incident, the governing officials in Sao Paulo ordered for a series of ballistic tests to be performed on every weapon in the same precinct. The tests led to a total of nine officers being convicted for murder for instigating the shootout at the bar (the ski masks and weapons were apprehended from the stock).
In spite of stringent action being taken on these officers and 44 other officers who have since then, been charged with murder for several unjustified shootings, it still remains to be seen if the current events would prompt a turnaround in areas like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where the police force likes it run its own show and take care of business its own way.