Brazil: Police execution and YouTube voyeurism

On Friday, May 4, 2010, a YouTube video (the video has been removed) was posted in which a supposed criminal from the Fallet Slum, in Rio de Janeiro, was hit by a gunshot to the head. The scene shows the victim and two other people walking through the hillside streets carrying long guns, possibly rifles.

The images and voices were captured by the strategically placed shooters themselves. The video also includes the voices of at least two others people in the background, one watching the shooting and the other guiding the shooter. Despite the video’s availability on YouTube, we prefer to post it here using Vimeo in the hopes that it remains online:

After hearing the shooters’ confirmation that one of the targets was “Gordão” (01m08s), and that in a certain position at that particular location he would be “uncovered” (01m20s), police slang to refer to someone who is unprotected, the shooters began counting backwards and eventually fired a long gun. Bull's eye! The shooters then confirmed their shot screaming “You got one! You got one!” The victim fell to the ground and asked for help to then be dragged off camera by another person beside him.

Despite the unquestionable seriousness of the content, so far the reaction among bloggers has been, if not null, then at best mild. There are two possible reasons for this. The growing banality of human disgrace has made the viewer indifferent to misery and pain. Moreover, the people involved pertain to a world of historical stereotypes: on the one hand, armed traffickers going about their routine of breaking the law; on the other hand, courageous policemen carrying out their duty. Together, we have a perfect combination for not even taking notice.

Actually, up to now, nothing is known about who took the shot or who died. Or if he really died. Our tragedy falls into the so-called blank statistics, the mysterious percentage of crimes committed, but whose existence is unknown to the bureaucratic government . The majority of the comments left on the YouTube page criticize the police, not because they shot the guy in the back, but because they missed their mark and did not hit the other two supposed traffickers. Others praise the traffickers. Bolinhajack says:

Pelo pouco q eu conheço de armamento… foi um Fal 7.62!
A precisão (alcanse da mira) do Fal, chega no mín. 200 mt's e 600 mt's max.
Mas provavelmente o atirador tinha uma luneta de guerra ao seu poder!
EU ACHO, q deve ser um policial muito bem treinado, mas naum posso dizer com a certeza!
Se foi um policial? Ele fez o trabalho dele!

From the little I know about guns… it was aFal 7.62!
The Fal’s precision (the scope’s range) is a min of 200 mts and a max of 600 mts.
But the shooter probably had a police monocular in his possession!
I THINK that he has to be a well trained policeman, but I can't say for sure!
And if it was a policeman? He was doing his job!

FTwitter was where the greatest number of comments were left. Roberto Mosca Junior, who tweets as @robertomoscajr lamented the occurrence, paraphrasing the former BOPE (specialized Rio police force) policeman and screenwriter of Tropa de Elite, Rodrigo Pimentel:

Com diz o próprio Pimentel, isto aqui é uma guerra particular, a polícia mata o bandido, o bandido mata a polícia ou o outro traficante…

As Pimentel says, this here is a private war – the policeman kills the bandit, the bandit kills the policeman or other trafficker…

While José Soares Banana, who tweets as @bananinharadio, was desolate:

Vendo esse vídeo onde um suposto traficante é alvo de um atirador anônimo no Rio, eu me sinto na terra de ninguém

Watching this video where a supposed trafficker is the target of an anonymous shooter in Rio, I feel like [I’m in] No Man’s Land

A military policeman and twitterer whose initials are ACM and who tweets as @PMFogger12, protested the shooters’ actions, confirming that those involved were indeed policemen and traffickers. According to him, the shooting took place in September 2009 even though the video was only posted recently:

Só Deus e algumas pessoas sabem que foram os responsáveis pelos disparos que mataram o chefe do trafico na fallet e um do seus seguranças…

lembro que na época os moradores da fallet acusaram a PM de ter matado, um morador inocente, parece que o video desmente os moradores…

só posso disser: parabéns aos atiradores “desconhecidos”! rs

Only God and some people known that they were responsible for the shots that killed the head of the Fallet traffic ring and one of his bodyguards…

I remember at the time those in Fallet accused the military Police of having killed an innocent slum dweller; it seems the video belies the slum dwellers…

I can only say: congratulations to the “unknown” shooters! Haha

A quick blurb appeared on the website of Jornal Hoje and G1 News, both part of the Globo network. In an interview, the same former policeman, Pimental, states that the shot came from an abandoned hospital that is currently occupied temporarily by the military police of Rio de Janeiro:

Segundo Pimentel, o vídeo mostra a Rua Eliseu Visconti, que fica próxima aoo Hospital Quarto Centenário, de onde pode ter partido o tiro. O disparo também pode ter sido feito de um muro da Rua Almirante Alexandrino, diz Pimentel. O hospital, que foi desativado, atualmente é ocupado pela PM.

According to Pimentel, the video shows Eliseu Visconti street, which is close to the Quarto Centenário Hospital, from where the shot may have originated. The shot could also have come from a wall on Almirante Alexandrino Street, Pimental says. The hospital, which was closed, is currently occupied by the military police.

For centuries, the public safety squads in Brazil have been shouldering government interference in how they conduct their business. For a long time, the police and the government have been entwined in a dangerous play, one that allows the state governor to have a legitimate institution at his disposal authorized to invade citizens’ privacy and to produce legal evidence against anyone.

In terms of the policemen, groups of poorly paid human beings who are not even part of the middle class. They are left with the mediocre role of being the armed branch of the federal states and, at the same time, entrusted with clearing the streets of the residual population, which is confused with the actual work of public safety. On days off, they pick of freelance jobs to compensate their salaries.

Taking someone’s life in a violent and calculated manner, as is the case here, seems to be justified by the un-controversial visual proof. The voyeuristic citizen, before complaining of a government void in the form of arbitrary and criminal judgments such as this, seems to show his approval through his loquacious, and equally criminal, silence.

This post was translated by Melissa Mann

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