Nicaragua Mourns Three Family Members Killed by Police in High Speed Pursuit

A Nicaraguan National Police car. Phot by Jorge Mejía Peralta under the Creative Commons License.

A Nicaraguan National Police car. Photo by Jorge Mejía Peralta under the Creative Commons License.

Nicaraguans are mourning a tragic shooting this month that claimed the lives of one man and two children. On July 11, police opened fire on a car, after the driver ignored orders to pull over. The man apparently didn't recognize that the people trying to pull him over were law enforcement agents.

Police say they were conducting an anti-drug operation on the night of the shooting. Working in the dead of night, officers say they signaled to the car that it needed to stop, but the driver sped up, instead, mistaking police for criminals trying to seize his vehicle.

The police pursued the vehicle and opened fire on what they believed to be a car full of fugitives. The chase ended when the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a truck, 700 meters (about a half a mile) away from where the chase had begun. The car was carrying a family of seven heading home from church. Three passengers died (including two young brothers).

Both the victims’ families and the nation as a whole have been mourning ever since. Online, Nicaraguans have fiercely criticized the police, specifically National Police Commissioner Aminta Granera.

Simone Montiel, author of the blog Gabriela Kame, wrote:

Las armas son invenciones humanas, y desde que fueron creadas tienen una única función: MATAR. No ayudar, proteger, brindar seguridad. MATAR cuando sea necesario, dicen, y eso está siempre en dependencia y criterio de quién la porta. Cualquier puede ser blanco de un arma en cualquier momento. Sobre todo de aquellas armas que están permitidas, institucionalizadas. Creadas para matar legalmente.

Weapons are human inventions, and ever since they were created they have had one sole purpose: TO KILL.  Not to help, protect, or provide security. KILL only when necessary, they say, yet it is always those holding the weapon who have the power to judge when it is necessary. Anybody can be the target of a weapon at any time—especially when the weapons are authorized and institutionalized. They're created to kill legally.

Three hours after the tragedy, Granera arrived at the scene to offer her condolences and support to the victims’ family and to establish the facts of the incident. Neighbors and relatives are demanding justice for the death of three innocent people caused by this failed police operation.

The hashtag #AmintaRenunciaYa (#AmintaResignAlready) has gained popularity on Twitter:

We are sick and tired of police abuse, corruption, and barbarities

Blogger Alberto Sánchez writes in the blog Políticamente Incorrecto:

Si algo sabemos acerca del futuro es que en esas ocasiones en que nuestro gobierno considere que el cuerpo muerto, torturado, violado o secuestrado, es digno de recibir algún tipo de disculpa, entonces la primer comisionada pedirá perdón, pedirá perdón, pedirá perdón…una y otra vez.

If there is one thing we know about the future, it is that at times when our government regards the dead, tortured, raped, or kidnapped body worthy of some type of apology, the police commissioner will ask for forgiveness, ask for forgiveness, and ask for forgiveness—over and over again.

Granera has promised the family and the general population that the officers involved will be brought to justice and get the trial they deserve.

Why have the police officers involved in the massacre in la Jaguitas still not appeared in the media? It's been nearly 24 hours and still nothing.

In a respectable country, such a serious incident would have Aminta sacked. If she were a respectable person, she would resign herself.

Corruption, abuse, and excessive force used by police have been a constant problem in Nicaragua for years. In 2008, an officer shot dead a 15-year-old boy—an incident the police force classed as another unfortunate accident.

Blogger Alberto Sánchez published a recap of incidents involving officers’ abuse of authority that were neither investigated nor publicly acknowledged by the National Police.

La primer comisionada nunca pidió perdón por la niña violada por tres policías en las inmediaciones de la casa del presidente de la república…

La primer comisionada nunca pidió perdón por permitir que Francisco Javier Ponce muriera “ahorcado” en las celdas de la Dirección de Auxilio Judicial del Chipote.

La primer comisionada nunca pidió perdón por los campesinos asesinados a tiros por policías en la comunidad del Carrizo…

Ni por las torturas y vejámenes a las mujeres de Nueva Guinea, ni por #OcupaINSS, ni por asediar a los movimientos de mujeres en sus marchas públicas, ni por la reacción desmedida en el último plantón del CSE…

The first commissioner has never apologized for the young girl raped by three police officers in the immediate vicinity of the president's own home…

The first commissioner has never apologized for allowing Francisco Javier Ponce to hang himself in the Judicial Co-operation Department in Chipote…

The first commissioner has never apologized for the farmers killed in police shootings in the community of Carrizo…

Nor for the torture and humiliation of the women of New Guinea, nor for #OcupaINSS, nor for besieging the public rallies of the women's movements, nor for the latest confrontation with the Supreme Electoral Council…

On 2013, the Center for Justice and International Law and the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights presented a complaint that the national police in Nicaragua use excessive force, sexually assault citizens, and enjoy impunity for their actions.

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