BOGOTA – The family of a Colombian man who died at the hands of police laid him to rest on Wednesday with a call for justice.
Javier Ordoñez, a 46-year-old attorney and father of two young children, perished a week ago after two police officers tased him repeatedly as he pleaded for his life in an incident caught on video that spurred days of protest.
“May the weight of the law fall on all of those who committed this injustice,” Elvia Bermudez, Javier’s aunt, told reporters during the funeral service at a Bogota church.
Thirteen people were killed last week in the disturbances that followed Ordoñez’s death, which spread beyond Bogota to other major Colombian cities, including Medellin, Cali and Cucuta.
Bermudez said that violence was the last thing her nephew would want to see in reaction to his death.
“Javier would not have liked that,” she said. “He loved everybody. I ask for peace and I ask that this serve to modify some laws that are badly made, that we change something, that we learn a lesson from what happened and that it doesn’t happen again.”
Colombia’s defense minister, who oversees the National Police, acknowledged the responsibility of the cops for Ordoñez’s death.
“Some police killed a Colombian citizen, dishonored the uniform, violated the norms of ethical behavior, ignored all of the institution’s efforts at training,” Carlos Holmes Trujillo said during an appearance before the Senate.
Seven officers, including the two cops who used the Taser against Ordoñez, have been suspended pending investigation and the Inspector General’s Office has set a disciplinary hearing for Oct. 1.
Though the military justice system would ordinarily handle a case involving police, jurisdiction in this matter has been shifted to the civilian courts.
Authorities identified the officers who tased Ordoñez as Harby Rodriguez Dias and Juan Camilo Lloreda Cubillos.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez spoke out last Friday about the killing of Ordoñez and about the way police handled the ensuing protests.
“They killed Javier Ordoñez and fired indiscriminately at citizens,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that 68 people were injured and seven died due to the actions of police on Sept. 9 and eight were shot and wounded on Sept. 10.
Lopez, who is the highest police authority in Bogota, said officers had “disobeyed express and public instructions from the mayor’s office.”
“So who are they obeying? There’s an urgent need for justice, action and reform!” the mayor said.