Brazilian Soldiers Shoot Black Musician 80 Times

Evaldo dos Santos Rosa, 51, a Black musician and security guard, was driving his family to a baby shower in northern Rio de Janeiro on Sunday when the Brazilian army opened fire on his vehicle. Officials believed that Dos Santos was a bandit who reportedly stole a white car nearby. Police accused the soldiers of firing over 80 shots, killing Dos Santos. His wife’s stepfather and a passerby were injured, but Dos Santos’ 7-year-old son, 13-year-old granddaughter, and wife were reportedly safe. Authorities also revealed that no weapons were found in the vehicle, the BBC reported.

The “family ended up being victims of the military,” Detective Leonardo Salgado said, adding that he could not see “a legitimate defense for the number of shots.” Salgado told The Guardian that “only a miracle stopped this tragedy [from] being worse.”

The same publication noted that the army’s eastern military command reported that a group of criminals attacked a patrol on Monday. It later backpedaled from this account, adding that there were “inconsistencies between the facts initially reported and other information that arrived afterwards.” As a result, police arrested 10 of the 12 soldiers for “disobeying the rules of engagement.”

The attack sparked fury among locals, who prevented service people from examining the crime scene; the soldiers involved in the attack left the scene, the publication noted. Local press indicated that the military conducts routine patrols, but the shooting raised questions about deploying armed forces to restore security in at-risk areas. In December 2018, official-related deaths reached a new high, according to a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). From January to November of last year, police killed 1,444 people in Rio de Janeiro state, according to the report, which cited the Public Security Institute. The previous record was 1,330 in 2007.

“Military-style security operations that leave a trail of death in poor neighborhoods do not enhance public security,” Daniel Wilkinson, Americas managing director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “On the contrary, these killings make communities fear the police and much less likely to collaborate with the police in the fight against crime.”

The attacks make it harder for affected neighborhoods to report abuses, and gang members would not be incentivized to surrender peacefully, the human rights organization found.

Other experts have blamed President Jair Bolsonaro’s encouraging message for authorities to go “trigger-happy.” He said last year that “police officers should be decorated for killing criminals,” according to The Guardian. Antonio Costa, president for the nonprofit group Rio of Peace, told The Guardian that Bolsonaro’s words create a “warlike climate.”


About the Author

Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and US politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.