RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s Military Police says it is investigating an incident in which its officers shot and killed a Spanish tourist on Monday when the car she was riding in allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint outside this metropolis’ largest “favela,” or shantytown.
That security force said in at statement that it had already identified who fired the shots and was conducting a preliminary internal probe.
Fabio Cardoso, head of the homicide division of the Rio de Janeiro Security Secretariat, said the investigation was focused on the conduct of three of the officers who were manning the checkpoint.
Cardoso said the victim, identified as 67-year-old Maria Esperanza Jimenez Ruiz, died after being shot at least once in the neck.
Jimenez and other tourists were riding in a Fiat on Monday morning when the driver barreled through a police checkpoint set up in Largo do Boiadeiro, a section of Rocinha that is home to scores of shops, the secretariat said in a statement.
Military Police officers opened fire on the Fiat “and verified while inspecting it that they were dealing with a vehicle used to transport tourists,” the secretariat said.
Jimenez was transported to a hospital in southern Rio de Janeiro, where she died while being treated for gunshot wounds, the secretariat said.
She was on vacation in Rio with her brother, Jose Luis Jimenez, and her sister-in-law, who are providing statements to Brazilian investigators.
Rocinha, which has majestic views of one of Rio’s most popular tourist beaches, is on the hill that divides the Sao Conrado and Gavea residential districts.
The shantytown’s only avenue links Rio’s southern and western sections, making it a strategic thoroughfare used by both drug traffickers and local drivers.
In mid-September, dozens of drug traffickers tried to take control of the illegal trade in Rocinha and pushed out the gang that had controlled the area, leading to a weeks-long turf war.
In recent weeks, army soldiers have intervened in that favela on several occasions amid the drug-related clashes.
After the Spanish tourist’s death, Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella on Monday called on the federal government to redeploy army soldiers and Federal Police officers to that conflict-plagued shantytown.