Family accuses BOPE of murder; Military and Civil Police investigating the case.
15 year old died on Saturday during an action in the Parque Arará Favela.
The body of the Elizeu Santos da Silva, 15, killed during a police operation in the Parque Arará Favela in Benfica of the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, was buried around 11am, Sunday morning (19), in the São Francisco Xavier Cemetary, in the Caju neighborhood of the Portuária Zone. The information was confirmed by the administration of the cemetery.
“They killed my son in front of me mercilessly”, said Áurea Cristina da Silva Santos, 40.
The teen’s family accuses the police of the Special Operations Battalion (Batalhão de Operações Especiais or BOPE) of murder during a raid in the early hours of Saturday morning (18). The Civil Police investigating the death of Elizeu said that the weapons of the police officers involved in the operation have been collected for examination at the Carlos Eboli Institute of Criminology (ICCE). The case was filed at the 37th Precinct.
The Military Police entered the favela with the aim of arresting drug traffickers in the area. There was a confrontation with criminals. One suspect was killed and another was arrested. The police seized a 40mm pistol, a 380mm pistol, a 40mm clip, a 380mm clip, an AK47 rifle clip, 79 – 7.62 rounds, two 40mm rounds, six 380mm rounds, a radio-transmitter, 12 small bags of an inhalant drug that is known as loló, 16 bags of hydroponic marijuana, 115 bags of hashish, 191 bags of marijuana, 56 bags of crack, 402 bags of cocaine and a notebook that kept track of trafficking activity.
By way of its Twitter account, BOPE confirmed that they were involoved in an operation in the community but that the teen was found by the police already wounded and was taken to the HGB Hospital. The message goes on about the weapons and drugs confiscated on the scene. Foto: Reproduction / Twitter
According to the Military Police, during the operation, Elizea was found wounded in an alley in the community. He was taken to the Bonsucesso General Hospital with bullet holes in the chest, forehead, wrist and shoulder where he succumbed to his wounds and died. The teen’s mother, Áurea Cristina da Silva Santos, 40, says that she screamed and said that a police officer shot in her direction, hitting the ceiling of the apartment. “I even saw my son being dragged by his feet and placed inside the police wagon. I don’t know if I can handle so much pain”, said Áurea, who was at home with her two other children.
‘Hand of God’
The boy’s family disputes the Military Police’s version of the story and claims that he was murdered by the military police of BOPE. According to the victim’s father, João Batista Trigueiro da Silva, 42, his son was at a party in a nearby building, and around 11:30pm, he went home to get some ice. “My wife threw the key to him (Elizea), so he could get into the condo. Then, when she threw it, as he stooped down to pick up the key, they shot him in a cowardly act. They were hiding under the stairs of the condominium. They even shot in my wife’s direction so that she couldn’t see their faces. It was God’s hand that saved her”, he continued. After the murder, the keys were not found. “We struggle to raise children and the police who should protect them, kill them”, João concluded.
Mother and family at burial of 15-year old Elizeu Santos da Silva
Elizea attended the sixth grade at a school in Benfica, where he was loved by the mothers of his classmates. “He was a child. Quietly studying and not disturbing anyone”, said one woman.
Out of fear, Áurea didn’t sleep at home. From the window of her apartment, she witnessed the murder of her son. More than 30 hours after the murder, she returned to the crime scene and decided to take action. Tired of waiting for on the crime report she said had not been done, Aurea washed the stains of the puddle of blood that remained on the sidewalk in front of the building, before heading to the burial of her son, on Sunday morning, at the Caju cemetery:
Áurea Santos kisses her son goodbye at the burial
“I didn’t even sleep at home for fear that they would return. I didn’t see who it was, but I know that the police is bad, because they did this act of cruelty in front of me”, Áurea said on Sunday morning, before heading to the funeral of her son.
Family and friends accompany the body of Elizeu Santos da Silva to the burial
Áurea Santos, who lived in her home for five years with Elizeu and her two other teenage children, Jonatas, 17, and Rachel, 13, said he will leave Arará.
“I arrived early in the morning and washed it (the bloodstains). I kept looking from here (the window) and remembering, then I decided to wash everything. They haven’t come to do the crime report; they said that they would come and still haven’t come. If they do, they will see bullet hole, but no more blood, no”, says Aurea Santos. “There are alot bullet holes. I didn’t manage to get down there to see my son because they didn’t let me see him, they shot at the building. I thought if I came down there they would kill me too.” The housewife was not sought by any public agency to receive any type of assistance:
Bloodstains smear the ground where Elizeu was gunned down
“I wanted a wake, but it only worked out for my ex-husband to pay for the funeral. Nobody came to give me assistance. I wanted that they would so I could at least give (him) a decent burial, a wake to see him a little more. But it will be direct burial.”
Outraged by the death of Elizea, she intends to sue the state: “They killed my son in front of me mercilessly. I will not sue the police because I did not see their faces, but I will sue the state.”
Disgusted, the boy’s father, shares Aurea’s view and emphasizes that he will fight so that those responsible for the crime are punished. “It’s a shame to see a police officer, made to protect and respect the citizen, wear a uniform and kill my son”, he laments, adding that a part of him was buried along with his son: “It is very sad situation. It was a cowardly act of these bandits. They invaded our privacy to kill him because they were hidden in the condominium. My dream is to see them behind bars”, he said.
Family members grieve at funeral of 15-year old Elizeu Santos da Silva
The Civil Police declared in a statement that “security issues” and the removal the boy impeded crime investigation. The weapons used in the operation were seized and will be examined by the Institute of Criminology Carlos Eboli (ICCE). Later, the BOPE police testified. The investigation was referred to the Homicide Division (DH).
About 100 people attended Elizea’s funeral including relatives and friends of the teenager and family. Among them was a resident of the Arará Favela, the mother of another young person who went to school with Elizea. “It was a brutal execution. This crime cannot go unpunished”, she said.
Unfortunately, the assassination of Elizeu Santos da Silva, another young black Brazilian male victimized by either police or death squad is another in long line that continues to devastate the black community throughout Brazil. As we have reported previously on this site, the numbers of people murdered by police in cities like Rio and São Paulo are well beyond what can be categorized as simply alarming. While communities in cities like New York are outraged when that city’s police kill 30 people in a year, Rio’s police double this figure monthly, regularly killing over 700 people per year.
Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite), a 2007 Brazilian film, is a semi-fictional account of the BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais), the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police
The preferred victim has a gender (male), race (black) and age group (15-24). Similar to the so-called “wars” on drugs and terror, crime and drug enforcement agents in many Brazilian cities have mercilessly terrorized Brazil’s poor, predominantly black neighborhoods for many years, all under the guise of fighting drug trafficking and crime. Shantytowns, or favelas as they are called in Brazil, are continuously targeted and stereotyped by crime officials as places of ill repute, lawless lifestyles, chaos, crime and indecent behavior. And although there is always a grain of truth in a stereotype, it is often vastly overblown.
For instance, numerous reports, like “A cultura da esperança” by Jailson de Souza e Silva have pointed out that, although police and officials consistently target favela communities as areas of high drug trafficking activity, in reality, in reality, less than one percent of the population at large in these communities have any involvement in drug trafficking. Yet, bloodbaths, massacres and slaughters, or chacinas (in Portuguese) where police indiscriminately invade a community and riddle the area with bullets killing countless, innocent victims is rather common.
In March of 2005, 30 people were killed in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio. In August of 1993, 21 were killed in the Vigário Geral region of Rio, none of whom had any involvement in crime. And although it didn’t happen in a favela, perhaps the famous incident happened in June of 1993 when eight young people, aged 11 to 19, were killed as they slept in front of the Candelária church in downtown Rio. Three military police were eventually prosecuted but the motive of the crime remains unknown to this day. These are only a few of the more well known cases. To get an idea of how the infamous BOPE crime unit operates, check out the films Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad) 1 and 2 on DVD.