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Violent Protests Erupt in Colombia After a Man Dies in Police Custody


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Violent protests broke out in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, on Wednesday night following the death of a man who was shocked with a stun gun by the police.

Seven people died in the demonstrations, according to authorities, while buses and police stations were set on fire.

The protests follow months of pandemic-related lockdown in the city of about eight million people, and years of concern about police abuse. The outpouring also came in the wake of protests over police violence in the United States, which have been widely publicized in Colombia.

A video of the encounter between the man, Javier Ordoñez, and two officers shows Mr. Ordoñez face down on the ground. An officer stabs him repeatedly with the stun gun, and Mr. Ordoñez can be heard saying, “Please, no more.” In the video, which lasts several minutes, people looking on can be heard asking the police to stop hurting him.

The video circulated widely on social media on Wednesday, drawing many to the streets.

At least 148 people were injured overnight, according to a police spokesman, Gen. Gustavo Moreno, most in Bogotá. Police took about 70 people into custody.

Bogotá’s mayor, Claudia López, said on Thursday morning that 46 of the city’s streets had been “totally destroyed.”

“I am absolutely aware that we need structural police reform,” Ms. López said. “But destroying Bogotá is not going to fix the police.”

Police Col. Alexander Amaya told BluRadio soon after the incident that the officers were responding to a dispute involving multiple people who had been drinking.

“They became aggressive,” said Colonel Amaya. “The police had to subdue them.”

A spokesperson for the police declined to provide more information, saying the matter was now under investigation.

A man who said he was a witness to the stun-gun incident, Juan David Uribe, said in an interview with CityTV that the police account was not true, and that there had been no argument.

“This is a total lie,” said Mr. Uribe.

On the same television program, Elvia Bermúdez, an aunt of Mr. Ordoñez, said that he was a lawyer with two children who made his living driving a taxi.

Sofía Villamil contributed reporting from Bogotá.





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