By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Two police officers were shot in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, March 15th. Those deaths marked the eighteenth and nineteenth officer casualties this year and that three month death toll now surpasses the total number of officers, eighteen, killed during the entire year of 2013.

Two Police Officers Dead in Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Military police during the inauguration of Rocinha’s Police Pacification Unit (UPP), photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr.

The first shooting took place in Duque de Caxias, in Baixada Fluminense, when office Alexandre da Costa Pereira, while patrolling the area early on Saturday, discovered an attempted ATM robbery and was shot in the chest during a gunfight with the alleged thieves.

Costa Pereira was taken to the hospital but died shortly thereafter. Two of the alleged thieves were also later confirmed dead from gunshot wounds, while two others were arrested.

The second shooting occurred at approximately 6:30 AM when Leonardo do Nascimento Mendes of Rochina’s UPP (Police Pacification Unit) was shot while reportedly leaving a party. Nascimento Mendes died en route to the hospital.

“Leo was very happy to have been moved [to Rochina’s UPP],” father José Luis Mendes explained to O Globo about his son who had previously worked for Mangueira’s UPP, adding “but he was apprehensive and afraid of being killed by bandits and all that has been happening in the UPPs, and so were we. We asked him to be careful. Unfortunately this did happen and he is not here.”

Rio de Janeiro Governor Sérgio Cabral reportedly said that the shootings and other cases of violence against police will not stop the government’s pacification efforts.

Cabral pointed to the case of the accused torture and death of Rocinha resident Amarildo de Souza by ten Military Police officers as a cause of the tension from communities towards the police.

“There are incidents of trying to turn the mistake of a few police officers against the entire pacification policy. But the military police and civilian police are increasingly motivated to move forward with peace, because the vast, overwhelming majority of the population has always believed in that policy,” Governor Cabral said during Saturday’s inauguration of Estação Uruguai (Uruguay subway station) in Tijuca.

Cabral later added; “That is to say, is it better to continue with the communities lacking structure with the [guns of the gangs], or is it better to have the police present to ensure that the city has a good pacification with businesses growing in communities so that the municipality and the government can invest in the communities?”

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


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