Dispatch from Brazil: If killed by police, guilty by default … unless there’s video?


By Priscila NériWITNESS

Imagine for a moment that your loved one was murdered. Perhaps a son as he played with friends on your street, or a nephew who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now imagine the perpetrator was a police officer and, because of that, there is only a 0.8% chance of that crime ever being investigated or brought to justice. Even if completely false, the police officers’ version of events (your son was armed, your nephew attacked us…) will become the official story without much contestation and you would spend the rest of your life trying to correct the facts and demand justice.

Deep down, you know how unlikely it is that anyone be held to account for your loss, especially if your son was young, black and poor. People will be outraged for a few days, but then go about their daily lives. The media didn’t really care what happens in your part of town. It is just the way things are. It was the way they’ve always been.

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