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News > Latin America

Brazil: Fatal Police Shooting of Teen Rocks Rio de Janeiro

  • Family, neighbors and friends of Maria Eduarda Alves gather to demand justice for her death at the hands of police in Rio, March 31, 2017.

    Family, neighbors and friends of Maria Eduarda Alves gather to demand justice for her death at the hands of police in Rio, March 31, 2017. | Photo: EFE

Published 1 April 2017
Opinion

Rio state poliec spokesperson said the teenage girl's death was collateral damage of a war between police and criminal groups.

The death of a teenage girl struck by "stray bullets" from the guns of police spurred controversy Friday in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro.

Maria Eduarda Alves, 13, was doing gymnastics Thursday outside her school in Rio's Pavuna neighborhood when she was hit four times — twice in the head — amid what police said was crossfire from a gunfight between officers and "bandits."

Minutes later, two cops killed a pair of suspects.

The two officers have been arrested and an investigation is under way, police said.

Maria’s death marks the third Rio resident under the age of 14 to die so far this year allegedly from the impact of stray bullets.

Maria's family expressed skepticism about the official explanation of her death.

"How is it a stray bullet, with four bullet holes in the body?" her brother, Uidison Alves, said. "It was an execution. They executed two criminals and my sister."

Ignacio Cano, a professor at Rio de Janeiro State University, said that Maria's case is having an impact because it brings together a "scandalously innocent" victim with a summary execution, characterizing police violence as "systemic and generalized."

The city suffered 1,221 homicides in the first two months of 2017, up 28 percent from the same period last year, he said.

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