We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

A stock image of a police vehicle in Brazil. Alamy Stock Photo

Man allegedly dies of asphyxiation by teargas bomb after police arrest in Brazil

A video shows 38-year-old Genivaldo de Jesus Santos being arrested and placed in the boot of a federal highway police vehicle.

A MAN HAS died of asphyxiation after police arrest him and force him into the boot of an SUV with what appeared to be a teargas bomb in Brazil.

In a video taken at the scene on Wednesday in the northeastern city of Umbauba, two officers can be seen pinning 38-year-old Genivaldo de Jesus Santos to the street, then putting him in the trunk of their federal highway police vehicle, holding the hatchback door closed as thick white smoke poured from the car.

As Santos screamed and kicked frantically, the officers pushed down on the door, his legs outside the car, the rest of his body inside it.

“They’re going to kill him!” a bystander shouted, before Santos’s legs went limp.

State officials said an autopsy found Santos died of asphyxiation.

His family told news site G1 he suffered from schizophrenia and was taking prescription medication.

A nephew who was at the scene said police had stopped Santos while he was riding a motorcycle.

“I told the officers my uncle had a mental health issue. They made him raise his hands and found packets of pills in his bag. He started getting upset,” he told G1.

He said the officers then used pepper spray on Santos and put him in the boot.

“They threw some kind of gas inside and left for the police station. When they realized my uncle was unconscious, they took him to the hospital, but it was too late.”

The federal highway police said Santos had “actively resisted,” leading officers to use “lower-impact immobilization techniques.”

They said a disciplinary proceeding had been opened to investigate the officers’ conduct.

The death came on the second anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd in the United States, and drew immediate comparisons.

“The same day George Floyd was suffocated to death by police, Genivaldo Santos was asphyxiated to death in an improvised gas chamber,” one Twitter user wrote.

Others called for protests.

“Why does #BlackLivesMatter only matter in Brazil when the death happens somewhere else?” asked another tweet.

“This was a crime, perpetrated with cruelty,” Santos’s wife, Maria, told G1.

© AFP 2022