RIO DE JANEIRO – The Spanish woman killed earlier this week when police opened fire on a tour van visiting a “favela,” or shantytown, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was hit in the jugular vein, causing extensive bleeding, the coroner’s office said Wednesday.
Maria Esperanza Jimenez was killed when the vehicle she was riding in allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint outside Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio.
The 67-year-old Jimenez and other tourists were riding in a Fiat on Monday morning when the driver went through a police checkpoint in Largo do Boiadeiro, a section of Rocinha that is home to scores of shops, police said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Lt. Davi dos Santos Ribeiro was arrested after giving a deposition on the shooting and was jailed to await trial on homicide charges.
The 30-year-old officer was later released even though the Homicide Division of the Rio de Janeiro police department had requested preventive imprisonment on the grounds that he fired the fatal shot.
Jimenez was hit in the neck by a large-caliber bullet fired at a long distance, the coroner’s office said in a report.
The van driver, an Italian who has lived in Rio for four years, told investigators that he heard shots as he was leaving the shantytown, got scared and accelerated.
Jimenez was transported to a hospital in southern Rio de Janeiro, where she died while being treated for gunshot wounds, officials said.
She was on vacation in Rio with her brother, Jose Luis Jimenez, and sister-in-law.
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 entered the favela on several occasions amid the drug-related clashes.
After the Spanish tourist’s death, Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella called on the federal government to redeploy army soldiers and Federal Police officers in the shantytown.