Rio police free murderers, steal loot

(RAW STORY)   A pair of Rio de Janeiro policemen were under investigation on Thursday after they were caught on video apparently freeing two robbers and not helping their victim, who died of gunshot wounds.

The video — collected from street cameras around the scene of the crime in downtown Rio early October 18 — also showed the officers apparently stealing the objects the muggers had taken from the victim: his jacket and sneakers.

Brazilian authorities are struggling to stamp down on endemic unrest in Rio ahead of hosting the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

The alleged police theft came the day after drug gangs shot down a police helicopter surveying a turf war in a slum in northern Rio on Saturday. The aircraft burst into flames after impact, killing two of the officers on board.

Images of the robbery incident were shown Thursday on the front page of O Globo newspaper and on its sister television channel, Globo News.

According to the reports, the police patrol arrived 30 seconds after the muggers threw the man they were assaulting to the ground and shot him.

The police were seen running after the assailants and apparently capturing them. But four minutes later, both suspects were seen leaving the area. The police did not help the shot man as he lay dying on the ground.

One officer was seen throwing the victim’s jacket and shoes into the patrol car. Globo said the items were not registered in any police report later.

The victim, Evandro Joao Silva, 42, was a coordinator in a charity called AfroReggae which set up projects in Rio’s notoriously violent slums.

“We can’t put all the blame on the police. But the behavior of these two officers was just as bad, or even worse, than the bandits,” the director of AfroReggae, Jose Junior, said.

The two police officers involved were arrested pending the outcome of the probe.

Rio’s police, poorly trained and badly paid, are frequently accused of corruption and unnecessary violence. Dozens are thrown out of the force every year.

Between 2004 and 2008, the force lost 586 officers killed in the line of duty. Each earns an average of 17 dollars a day, according to official figures.

A third of Rio’s six million inhabitants live in slums, many of which are largely lawless. Clashes between drug gangs, and between heavily armed criminals and police, are common.

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