Currently kicking up a storm in Brazil…
A video showing Brazilian police spraying a Rio de Janeiro slum with gunfire from a helicopter while in pursuit of a drug trafficker has raised concerns about law enforcement tactics in the country.
The video, which was recorded on May 11th, shows police pursuing convicted drug trafficker Márcio Pereira, widely known as Mathematician, through the shanty down Favela da Coréia.
The New York Times reports that a police officer in the video can be heard saying “It looks like him, right?”
“That’s right; it looks like him,” another officer responds. After the exchange, a figure gets into a car. When it begins to move, an officer can be heard screaming “Get it!” at which point the police helicopter opens fire, striking both the car and surrounding buildings with what appears to be heavy weaponry.
Despite the huge onslaught of firepower, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports that Pereira escaped after the car was brought to a halt, and was found dead in a parked car the following day.
The footage aired for the first time Sunday on Brazilian TV station Globo.
Adonis Lopes de Oliveira, the helicopter’s commander, told Globo that “The street was largely frequented by traffickers,” when asked about the risk posed to residents by the seemingly unrestrained gunfire.
Brazil’s favelas, or shanty towns, are reportedly home to 12 million people, and have long been associated with drugs–particularly cocaine–and violent crime.
Claims of police brutality in favelas are nothing new; police in Rio and São Paulo police have allegedly killed more than 11,000 people since 2003.
The slums will be in the world spotlight when Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016.
These massive events have prompted huge investment in Brazilian infrastructure. But there have also been accusations that police are using violence in poor areas as a pretense to forcefully “clean up” the country before foreigners arrive.