A police officer in Brazil was suspended on Friday pending an investigation after he was caught on video firing a rubber bullet at a protester who had accidentally knocked his cap off.
The incident took place during a protest march Thursday night in the northeastern city of Recife, where local activists from the Occupy Estelita movement are trying to block a private real estate development project at the José Estelita Pier in the city’s historic center. The protesters want the space to be a public park.
The images show that protesters carrying a large banner across a road raised it as they passed an officer, glancing against his head and knocking off his cap. Seconds later, he calmly raised his rifle and fired a blast at one of the protesters only steps away.
The movement met on Thursday in protest to ask for the cancellation of all protocols involving the New Project Recife, which wants the construction of residential and office towers on the grounds of Cais José Estelita.
In a statement, the Occupy Movement Estelita spoke about the case, saying the agent fired on members “without any justification.” The group reported that the strip of cloth touched the policeman’s body “accidentally and without harm.” The statement also denounces and repudiates the PM’s behavior and provides solidarity to the hurt person. The text also denounces that some military were working without identification.
Also through a statement, the Military Police dismissed the action contained in the images and determined rigorous investigation of the fact, considered “unfortunate and wrong.” Until the investigations are completed, the military involved will be away from events such as protests and marches.
The police also said that the images show a single action and a corporate presence on site was intended to ensure the safety of participants. State Representatives said he was “outraged and perplexed” by the action of the police and filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division of the Social Defense Secretariat of Pernambuco (SDS-PE). The same document must be delivered to the Military Police General Command later this morning. “[The video] is an unbelievable thing. We have filed a complaint and demand that this man be removed from the streets and be exemplarily punished,” he said.
The deputy also calls for the police to undergo psychological and psychiatric reviews, be disarmed and punished. “He needs to be removed because it showed he has no emotional balance to be on the streets,” he said.