Two Brazilian police officers are facing criminal charges after a video showed one of them standing on a Black woman’s neck. The violent arrest took place on May 30 in São Paulo and the officers were subsequently suspended.
Officers were responding to a call about loud music being played outside a bar that should not have been open amid the pandemic. The 51-year-old woman who owns the bar is seen on video speaking to the officers before more footage shows her lying on the ground, with her hands in cuffs behind her back. The video shows the officer move his foot onto the woman’s neck with his boot and then shift his weight until he is standing on her.
“The more I struggled, the more he [cop] tightened the boot around my neck,” the woman said.
According to the woman’s lawyer, she lost consciousness four times during the arrest. The incident has been compared to the one involving Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died after an officer compressed his neck with his knee.
São Paulo governor João Doria said the officers are now undergoing a criminal investigation. The woman’s lawyer believes the officer who stood on her neck should be charged with attempted murder. The woman also says she was so violently assaulted by the officers that one of her legs was broken. Police records confirm the woman’s testimony, and show that she arrived at the hospital with a broken tibia and cuts that required more than a dozen stitches.
The video also captured the police engaging with two men in front of the bar. One of the men is handcuffed and lying on the ground, while the other is standing with his hands cuffed behind his back. The woman reportedly was attempting to act as a mediator between the officers and the men.
“I asked the policeman not to hit him anymore because he was already passed out, lying on the floor,” she said.
Although the officers have said they were attacked by an iron rod, the video footage does not show the men or the woman acting violently toward the officers.
The incident has prompted changes within the Brazilian police force. Less than a month after the incident, Doria unveiled a 20-day training program aimed at reducing the incidence of excessive force used against citizens at the hands of officers. By August, some 2,000 officers will be wearing body cameras.