Colombian minister issues apology after 2 days of deadly protests against police brutality
13 killed in outcry over video of man being repeatedly shocked with stun gun by police before his death
Colombia's defence minister apologized on Friday on behalf of the police for the death of a man in custody that has sparked two nights of protests in the capital of Bogota and satellite city Soacha, leaving 13 dead and hundreds injured.
President Ivan Duque said Friday evening that all the deaths would be investigated swiftly and no abuse by security forces would be tolerated.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets for consecutive nights to protest the death on Wednesday of Javier Ordonez, 46. A widely shared video filmed by Ordonez's friend showed the father of two being repeatedly shocked with a stun gun by police. He died later in hospital.
"The national police apologize for any violation of the law or ignorance of regulations by any members of the institution," Defence Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said in a video message. Colombia's police force is overseen by the defence ministry.
The video of Ordonez shows him being pinned to the ground by police officers and subjected to successive electric shocks early on Wednesday as he begs, "Please, no more."
Police said Ordonez was found drinking alcohol in the street with friends in violation of coronavirus distancing rules. He was taken to a police station in western Bogota, which has become a focal point of protests, and later died in hospital.
Officers face charges
Two police officers implicated in Ordonez's death face charges of abusing authority and homicide. They have already been suspended and will be fired from the force.
A further five officers have been suspended in connection with Ordonez's death, Trujillo said.
Smaller groups of protesters gathered and marched in Bogota, the capital, on Friday.
"It's no secret the police violate the power they have," said psychology student Susana Marin, 24. "I feel unsafe, I don't feel protected, I don't feel proud of my national police."
Some protesters later threw rocks at a police station in central Bogota. The police responded with tear gas, sending demonstrators scattering.
Seven people between the ages of 17 and 27 died after being shot in Bogota during protests Wednesday, according to the mayor's office, while the national government says three were killed the same night in Soacha.
Another three people died in connection with the protests on Thursday night, including a woman who was hit by a stolen public bus, officials said.
Duque said he had spoken to some of the families of those killed.
"We will work quickly so the events in which their loved ones died can have not only clarification but model sentences," Duque said during his nightly television broadcast, urging Colombians to reject vandalism and any form of violence.
He also visited injured police officers and met with Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez, who tweeted that public transport in the city would close at 8 p.m.
Family members of some of the Bogota victims from Wednesday told local media their loved ones had not been participating in the protests.
Hundreds injured in clashes
Hundreds of civilians have been injured during clashes between protesters and the police, with 73 wounded by gunshots in Bogota, according to local authorities. Just under 200 police officers have also been injured, according to the national government.
At least 60 police stations have been affected by vandalism, the government said, as well as dozens of public transport vehicles. Some 140 people have been arrested for vandalism, Duque said.
Ordonez's death has fuelled renewed outrage against the police, who were widely criticized last year after a teenage protester was fatally injured by a riot squad projectile.