Santiago officer is charged with a protestor’s fall that led to his hospitalization.
A Chilean police officer has been detained on suspicion of attempted murder, according to authorities, after he allegedly tossed a teenage protester over a bridge during an anti-government protest in Santiago. Video footage captured the incident and it soon went viral. The footage appeared to show a confrontation between the two before the boy, 16, fell head-first over the side. The Prosecutor’s Office said the officer involved “abandoned the victim” and “gave false information to the Prosecutor’s Office.”
“As the protesters fled, we saw the moment that the officer intercepted [the boy] and threw him from the bridge,” said Pavel Pavelic Jofre, leading some of the volunteers.
But the officer’s attorney Nubia Vivanco rejected the charges and placed the blame on the boy who fell, asserting that “the officer had followed protocol and that teenager had been trying to escape.”
At the same hearing, Enrique Monrás, Chief of police in that region of Santiago, reaffirmed this position, asserting, “The teenager lost his balance and fell,” and “the officer immediately notified emergency services. Ambulances were summoned so that they could provide prompt assistance.”
However, Pavelic Jofre disagreed, saying that he and other volunteers are responsible for ensuring the teen received medical attention. “We managed to get two of our group down to assist him, and after stabilizing his condition the fire brigade were able to lift him away from the river to be taken to hospital,” he said.
The boy was declared in stable condition soon after being admitted with head trauma and a fractured wrist. He had many supporters waiting for him outside, outraged and condemning police while touting signs that read, “He did not fall, they threw him.”
A gathering took place in Santiago the same day with protesters demanding the officer’s arrest. In a statement, Chile’s government said, it “condemns any violation of human rights” and a police officer who “does not comply with the protocols or the law must be investigated and tried in the courts.” It announced it had issued an investigation into the matter, and that the officer (who will remain anonymous) has, meanwhile, been relieved of his duties.
Officially, The North Central Prosecutor’s Office of Santiago accused the police officer of “causing the youth to fall” in issuing attempted murder charges. This charge seems to encapsulate both viewpoints – a situation in which the teen was pushed or one in which the officer’s actions resulted in a fall. In either case, the office felt it was necessary to hold the officer accountable.
Conduct concerns have grown more popular over the past year with 31 people losing their lives at the hands of law enforcement and many more violations reported. Chile’s public prosecutor is disappointed by the lack of consequences for officers cited in these violations, saying, “Since last October 8,575 alleged human rights violations have been perpetrated by the Carabineros in the repression of protests, and only 16 police agents have been stood down as a result.”