Viral videos of a 38-year-old Brazilian man suffocating with gas in the trunk of a police car after stopping a highway patrol caused outrage across Brazil on Thursday.
Police captured the handcuffed man in the trunk of their SUV, releasing a gas canister inside and leaning against the trunk door until his screams stopped and his dangling leg kicked off.
Brazil’s federal police said in a statement on Thursday that they had launched an investigation into the death.
The brutal death of Genivaldo de Jesus Santos, described by his family as suffering from schizophrenia, was shared on social media by viewers in the northeastern city of Umbauba in Sergei.
The shocking images, which came just days after another case involving police violence, spread panic on social media and sparked protests in small towns, with protesters blocking highways, burning tires and waving signs calling for justice.
Earlier this week, at least 23 people were killed in a police raid on a slum in Rio de Janeiro.
According to the victim’s family, Santos reached officers as his motorcycle passed through the area. He became nervous when officers found his schizophrenia drug in his pocket, Santos’ nephew Wallison de Jesus told the news website G1.
“They threw a gas inside the trunk and went to the police station, but my uncle fainted. They took him to the hospital, but it was already too late,” de Jesus said.
In a statement, Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF) said Santos was arrested because he actively resisted a police approach. It is alleged that the ambassador provided the information to Hussein.
Santos fell ill on the way to the police station and was then taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a PRF statement.
The statement did not mention the two officers being stuck in the back of their vehicles as white gas was seen leaking out, but said the PRF had launched an investigation into the officers’ behavior.
An autopsy at the state forensic medical institute, Reuters, found that Santos had died of mechanical asphyxiation.
“This obstruction could have been caused by a variety of factors, and it was not possible to establish the immediate cause of the suffocation at this first moment, or how it occurred,” the report said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)