Stephen Eisenhammer, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A member of the military police was photographed spraying a dog in the eyes with pepper spray while on patrol in the favela community of Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul (south zone), Sunday morning. The incident has caused public outrage, with the photograph, taken by the news agency Globo, going viral on the internet.
The picture had already been shared more than 12,000 times and received more than 3,700 comments by PM Sunday evening.
The commander of patrols, major Edson Santos, said he wants to hear from the policeman whether the dog was about to bite him, saying the officer may have used a non-lethal weapon in order not to hurt the animal.
Police action in Rocinha has come under increasing scrutiny in the past few months, as reports of violence have increased.
The incident occurred after military police reinforcements were sent into the favela following an exchange of fire with four armed men around 5AM. Rafael Monteiro da Silva, 22, was hit by a bullet in his left arm in the confrontation and is recovering in the Miguel Couto hospital, in Gávea, where he is in custody.
The pacification process, which has been widely heralded as a success across Rio, appears to be struggling in Rocinha, widely considered Brazil’s largest favela community.
Residents suggest this is a result of a negative attitude displayed by some police officers which has meant the campaign has more challenges ahead in order to win the support of the community.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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