Three-year-old girl dies after being shot by police in Brazil

17 Sep 2023 02:07pm
Pix for illustration purpose only. - Photo by 123RF
Pix for illustration purpose only. - Photo by 123RF

RIO DE JANEIRO - A three-year-old girl shot during a traffic stop by police in Brazil died Saturday of her injuries, officials said, in a case that drew outcry including from President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The girl, Heloisa dos Santos Silva, died Saturday morning of cardiorespiratory arrest after spending nine days in the hospital with gunshot wounds, said the health department for Duque de Caxias, near Rio de Janeiro, where she was being treated.

Relatives and witnesses told investigators she and her family were driving home on September 7 when federal highway police signaled them to stop, then opened fire on their car, hitting the girl in the neck and shoulder.

The girl's father told investigators he was bringing the car to a stop when police opened fire, according to federal prosecutors, who on Friday requested the arrest of the three officers involved.

The officers said they were pursuing the vehicle because it was registered as stolen.

According to Brazilian media reports, the officer who fired the shots told investigators he had heard gunfire and believed it was coming from the car.

The family and witnesses denied any shots were fired other than by the police.

Prosecutors have asked federal police to investigate.

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Lula condemned the shooting in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The girl "died of gunshots fired by those who are supposed to protect the people," he said.

"This simply cannot happen."

Gun violence and police killings are recurring tragedies in Brazil.

Silva is the eighth child shot dead this year in the Rio metropolitan area, according to the watchdog group Fogo Cruzado -- three of them in police operations. - AFP