Ten members of Brazil’s military were under arrest Monday after soldiers allegedly fired 80 shots at a car carrying a family, killing a 46-year-man and prompting protests.
Evaldo dos Santos Rosa was driving to a baby shower on Sunday with his seven-year-old child, his wife, her stepfather and another woman when soldiers allegedly started shooting at them, according to relatives. The stepfather and a passerby who was trying to help were injured, but the rest of the family was unharmed.
The military initially said in a statement that it had responded to gunfire from attackers. But police said no arms were found in the car, and the military eventually changed its statement.
“All evidence point to a homicide,” police investigator Leonardo Salgado told TV news Globo after inspecting the site.
On Monday, the military said soldiers patrolling the area mistook Dos Santos Rosa’s car for that of a criminal’s.
“Due to inconsistencies between the facts initially reported and other information later received by the eastern military command, we determined the immediate removal of the military (members) involved,” the armed forces said in a statement. Ten of the 12 men questioned by investigators were under arrest.
Family members, friends and local residents scheduled a protest Monday on the stretch of road where Dos Santos Rosa was killed.
“This can’t keep happening. We want justice,” Dos Santos Rosa’s 29-year old son Daniel told the Associated Press on the phone.
Brazil has the largest number of annual homicides in the world and President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to unleash security forces to battle rampant violence. But the armed forces have long been criticized for extrajudicial killings, especially in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
In 2018, the police killed 1,534 people in the state, according to government data.