Lawyers and other crime and violence experts contacted by El Pitazo say the militaries were wrong in shooting a fleeing car from behind Monday, a deadly move that resulted in the tragic death of a policewoman-29- inside a military base.
Ayendry Moreno, a detective from the CICPC, the investigation police, was shot in the neck and killed at the number 3 gate of Fuerte Tiuna, Venezuela’s largest military base by a member of the Military Police, now in custody with another five detained for the deadly shooting.
A statement from the 35th Brigade of the Military Police signed by the chief of that service, Jhony Berroterán Escobar said that Moreno disobeyed commands to stop, knocked down some traffic-control orange cones, was speeding and, ultimately, injured two men before the officers fired twice; shot hitting detective’s neck, killing her instantly.
A worrying pattern
Law professor, Keyner Avila, said the death of Moreno in those circumstances is not justified by any of the three principles that should govern police action: proportionality (the response needs to be in proportion with the initial attack or aggression), necessity (the urgent objective police action seeks to achieve) and legality (Venezuela has no death penalty and lethal force can only use to preserve one’s life).
“Was a life being saved? Did they save a life by taking another life? And whose life did they save to justify murder?” Avila asked. The expert also said that knocking down a few cones is no excuse for using a gun.
Encounters between the military, police, and civilians are highly lethal in Venezuela. According to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, there are 16,506 violent deaths recorded in 2019. From that number, 5,286 are victims of police action, which means 32% of the total and indicated 19 murders for every 100,000 Venezuelans.
Venezuela has the most cases of “Death by cop” in the Western Hemisphere, according to the World Health Organization, which considers it a man-made epidemic.
Allegations of resistance or disobedience are common in justifying those cases. In 2018, the UN recorded 5,287 “resistance to authority” deaths during police operations.
“The excuse for resisting authority is very common. It’s a recurring behavior pattern in armed cops,” Anagabriela Centeno, a Human Rights lawyer, told El Pitazo.
Centeno said that the military had enough time to set up different kinds of measures to stop the car, such as nails or a physical barrier.
In most of the cases where the killers are police and/or military, there is no punishment and impunity favors them, Centeno said.