Brazil: Mentally Ill Black Man Dies After Police Trap Him in Trunk of Their Car Turned Into 'Gas Chamber'
A mentally ill Black man in Brazil died after two police officers forced him into a police vehicle and then threw a gas grenade inside it.
Highway police officers reportedly stopped De Jesus Santos in Umbaúba city at Sergipe state on Wednesday. Video footage of the incident starts with three highway police officers pinning the Black man on a dirt road.
After a cut, two officers can be seen holding the police vehicle's rear door as white smoke pours out of the hatchback. De Jesus Santos' legs are shown thrashing as the officers trap him inside the vehicle.
The video is punctuated by harrowing screams from the Black man inside the hatchback. An onlooker can be heard saying, "They're killing him inside the car." Eventually, De Jesus Santos' legs stopped moving, the Independent reported.
Angry protests have erupted in Brazil following the Black man's horrific death at the hands of the police. De Jesus Santos' was buried on Thursday morning.
Dozens of people in Umbaúba reportedly staged a protest before his funeral. As they demanded justice, the protesters blocked the road where the Black man was killed and set tires on fire.
De Jesus Santos' widow, Maria Fabiana dos Santos, said: "This was a crime. They acted with cruelty to kill him." Many netizens also criticized the action of the police.
Douglas Belchior, a member of the Coalition for Black Rights civil rights organization, tweeted that the two police officers knew they were being filmed, and yet they "still applied a death sentence."
"There is no more decency or embarrassment. They tortured and executed the man," Belchior noted.
Black activist and politician from Rio de Janeiro Renata Souza also tweeted that the police officers turned the vehicle into a gas chamber and executed a mentally ill man "with his nephew watching in broad daylight."
"There are no words in the face of such inhumanity. Brazil is an extermination camp!" Souza said.
"He's tortured. He's a mentally disturbed person, and it's the story of you using the vehicle as a gas chamber to immobilize a person," Bueno noted.
Brazil Police: Black Man Displayed Aggressive Behav
Genivaldo de Jesus Santos' nephew, Alisson, was reportedly on the scene when his uncle died at the hands of the police.
Alisson said he told the police officers that his uncle suffered from mental health issues and had a prescription for medication in his pocket before they released what he described as a teargas grenade.
Alisson told the local press that "it was a torture session."
In a statement, the federal highway police in Brazil's state of Sergipe defended the officers' actions and said the Black man displayed an "aggressive behavior." They also said De Jesus Santos actively resisted the officers who pulled him over.
The statement noted that the police officers used "immobilisation techniques" and "instruments of minor offensive potential" after the Black man became aggressive.
Police claimed that De Jesus Santos was taken to a hospital after becoming unwell on the way to a police station. However, De Jesus Santos' family said the man was already dead when he arrived at the hospital, where his death was confirmed.
George Fernandes, a spokesperson for Sergipe state's forensic institute, told the Associated Press that a preliminary autopsy concluded the Black man died of respiratory failure due to "mechanical asphyxia."
Investigation Into the Death of the Black Man in Bra
Police have confirmed that it has opened an investigation into the death of Genivaldo de Jesus Santos. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro noted that he would seek answers from the Federal Highway Police regarding the man's death.
This incident came a day after highway police officers participated in a police raid at the Vila Cruzeiro favela in Rio de Janeiro that left more than 20 people dead.