RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Between 10 and 20 Brazilian police officers swept into a hospital in Rio de Janeiro and demanded doctors hand over a bullet that allegedly killed an 8-year-old girl during a police operation, a domestic magazine reported on Thursday.
The military police officers raided the Getulio Vargas hospital around dawn on Sept. 21, a Saturday, just hours after Agatha Felix was killed in the city’s poor Alemao district. According to bystanders, Felix was shot during a police raid, when a police officer mistakenly shot her while aiming at a motorcyclist. She died later in hospital.
Veja reported that doctors refused to give the officers the bullet and now fear reprisals.
Rio’s military police said in a statement it was normal for officers to be at a hospital after a shooting. Nonetheless, it added that “possible misconduct” by officers in the unit involved was under investigation internally and as part of the broader civil police probe into the case.
Rio’s civil police, which carries out investigations, said there was nothing on file about the raid.
The death of Felix, the fifth child to die this year at the hands of law enforcement, caused outrage in Rio, where rising police violence has become a growing issue this year.
Between January and August 2019, Rio police killed 1,249 people, according to official figures, nearly a fifth more than a year ago. The rate amounts to 5 people per day, more for the period than any since the state began keeping its current database in 2003.
Critics accuse far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and Rio Governor Wilson Witzel, who have both advocated police take a tougher line on criminals, of emboldening police to shoot to kill.
(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Sandra Maler)