The death of a teenage boy in the Complexo da Penha this week marks the second civilian death at the hands of the Army in four months. In September 2011 a conflict broke out between soldiers and civilians in the Complexo do Alemão, and Ana Lucia da Silva, 15, was shot and killed on her way home. The neighboring favela complexes of Alemão and Penha have been occupied by the Pacification force, a division of the Army, since November 2010. A Police Pacification Unit (UPP) was supposed to replace the Army in October 2011, but Governor Sérgio Cabral decided to delay the installation of the UPP until June 2012.
Translation of article “Polícia do Rio reconstitui morte de adolescente baleado por militares no Complexo do Alemão.” Published by UOL on January 4, 2011. Rio Radar note: UOL locates the action in the Complexo do Alemão; however, Vila Cruzeiro is actually in Penha.
On the night of Wednesday, January 4, Rio de Janeiro Civil Police reconstructed the death scene of Abrahão da Silva Maximiliano, 15, shot on the night of December 26 by peacekeeping forces operating in the Complexo do Alemão, in the north zone of the city.
The action took place in Caracol Plaza, in the favela Vila Cruzeiro. The simulation of the shooting was based on testimony given by eyewitness Wellington Gomes da Silva, 20, the victim’s cousin.
Two soldiers who were patrolling Chatuba, an area in Vila Cruzeiro, on the night of December 26 participated in the reenactment, which lasted about an hour. According to the Army’s version of what happened, there was a confrontation the officers and drug traffickers. Eight soldiers were suspended during the investigations.
Relatives of Abrahão (who died three days after his fifteenth birthday) and military prosecutors were also present. According to the Civil Police, the reconstruction is still not finished.
Other possible versions of Abrahão’s death were also simulated.
The Army’s version said that Abrahão was with a group of criminals who opened fire on the solders. According to Colonel Matalban Leal, head of Communications for the Peacekeeping Force, troops were on a routine patrol when they noticed three people acting suspiciously. When the soldiers tried to approach, the suspects allegedly began shooting.
Nine bullets were found at the site of Abrahão’s death–one of which was a rubber bullet—but the shell that killed the victim was not found. According to information from the 22nd Precinct (Penha), the principal challenge the investigation faces is identifying the weapon that fired the shot.
Experts are working to identify the caliber of the bullet, and may exhume the victim’s body. Abrahão suffered perforated lung and spinal injuries; he was not carrying weapons or drugs. He was taken by an Army ambulance to Getúlio Vargas Hospital, in Penha, but did not survive.
Abrahão’s relatives said the boy was playing soccer after curfew, and that the soldiers acted with unnecessary brutality. At Abrahão’s funeral, his sister, Jéssica da Silva Maximiliano, 20, criticized the actions of the Peackeeping Force.
Some of Abrahão’s relatives reported threats against them, and stated that soldiers cleared the place where the teen was shot. The family has not yet decided if it will enter the witness protection program.