On Wednesday, the Brazilian Federal Highway Police (PRF) threw Genivaldo de Jesus Santos, a black man with schizophrenia, into the trunk of their vehicle and released a gas bomb inside. He died of asphyxiation in the presence of dozens of witnesses in Umbauba, in the state of Sergipe.
Through social networks, local outlets and citizens spread images showing how the agents trapped the black man in the back of their vehicle. His legs protruded from the makeshift gas chamber and trembled as he lay dying.
In statements reproduced on the Globo network, the victim's nephew, Wallyson de Jesus, said that he clearly explained to the officers that his relative had suffered from schizophrenia for two decades and that the pills he was carrying on were part of his treatment.
"They asked him to put his hands up, and they found medicine packets in his pocket. My uncle got nervous and asked me what he had done. I asked him to calm down and listen to me," Wallyson said.
The tweet reads, "Genivaldo de Jesus Santos, a black man, was suffocated by federal police agents. The 38-year-old man died after Federal Highway Police agents made a kind of gas chamber inside their vehicle and locked him inside."
The nephew witnessed how his uncle was forced to stay inside the vehicle while the agents deliberately, strongly, and insistently pressed the back door pressed so that the victim remained inside the car while inhaling what is believed to be pepper spray. He was transferred to a municipal police station and later to a hospital, where physicians confirmed his death.
In an attempt to justify what happened, the Federal Traffic Police said the agents used "immobilization techniques and instruments with little offensive potential" against the detainee "due to his aggressiveness."
"Genivaldo de Jesus Santos was the name of a man killed by police today in Brazil. On this day, two years ago, #ICantBreathe started with the murder of George Floyd," Epidemiologist Helena Constante tweeted to remember that this 28-year-old citizen was murdered precisely on the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd.
Brazil's housing crisis is worsening but there are 6 million potential housing units available in abandoned buildings. This is why social movements occupy them and demand their legal right to dignified housing. My story from Maria Firmina squat in Recife for @telesurenglish pic.twitter.com/bBkr7PwPoi— BrianMier (@BrianMteleSUR) May 25, 2022