Two military police officers in Brazil will face criminal charges after they were filmed violently arresting a black woman – including one cop who stood on her neck.
The officers, who have already been sacked after the incident in Sao Paulo on May 30, are now subject to a criminal investigation, governor João Doria has confirmed.
It is not clear what charges they will face, but the victim’s lawyer has called for the officer who stood on her neck to be charged with attempted murder.
The case has chilling echoes of George Floyd, who was killed during an arrest by American police after an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes.
The incident in Brazil took place after officers were called to reports of loud music being played outside a bar that was supposed to be shut during the pandemic.
Video shows the officers pointing a gun at one man while a second is shown lying in the curb and being handcuffed as the woman, a 51-year-old who owns the bar, tries to speak to officers.
More footage then shows her lying face-down with her hands cuffed behind her back as an officer places his foot on the back of her neck, then shifts his weight so that he is standing on her.
The woman says she was assaulted by officers who punched and tripped her, causing her to break one of her legs.
Her lawyer says she passed out four times during the sustained assault.
Police records show she was taken to hospital after the arrest with a fractured tibia and cuts on her face and body that required 16 stitches.
The woman, a widow and mother of five children, said she was attempting to play peacemaker between the police and her friend who was seen being handcuffed.
‘I asked the policeman not to hit him anymore because he was already passed out, lying on the floor,’ the woman said.
The officers initially tried to claim that they had been assaulted with an iron rod, and charged the group with contempt, disobedience, resisting arrest and bodily injury.
While the video released by Brazilian TV channel G1 does not show the whole incident, it also does not show anyone threatening the officers.
During a Monday press conference, Governor Doria said he was shocked by the cops, whose behavior tarnished the integrity of the law enforcement force.
‘I want to make it clear that the State of São Paulo does not tolerate and will not tolerate any behavior that is violence practiced by the Military Police, the Civil Police, the Fire Department or any other police that is under the command of the State of São Paulo,’ Doria said.
‘It is unacceptable that few compromise many. In other words, condemnable actions by a few compromise an organization with more than 80,000 police officers and who do their job well.’
On June 22, Doria introduced a 20-day training program aimed at prevent the use of unnecessary force employed against civilians by ‘one percent of bad policemen’.
Starting in August, at least 2,000 police officers will have body cameras.
The announcement was made on the heels of a string of incidents in which cops were recorded on video using extreme force, including an incident in the São Paulo neighborhood Carapicuíba on June 21 when a police officer choked a 19-year-old man.