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Family and politicians demand answers about murdered teenager

The family of David Toro Córdova announced that they will file a lawsuit against the police officers involved in the death of their son. The death, considered the first under the Naín-Retamal Law, is marked by loose ends and uncertainty. Family members and politicians alike demand answers.

The family of 19-year-old David Toro Córdova demands justice. According to family members, the use of lethal force by the Carabineros (Chile’s national police force) against the teenager was completely disproportionate. The family announced its plan to take legal action.

They are joined in their demand for justice by politicians who seek clear answers about the case..

Toro’s family speaks out

Toro was killed during a police inspection in San Antonio, on April 8. According to El Desconcierto, he worked as an Uber driver when he was stopped at a police checkpoint. When he refused to stop, a police officer opened fire with an UZI submachine. Toro was hit in the face seven times and died on the spot. Two other occupants of the car were brutally beaten.

What exactly happened at that fatal moment remains uncertain. There are many unanswered questions regarding police procedure and the extremely high firepower used against Toro.

According to police statements, Toro refused to stop at a control checkpoint, and tried to run over the officers who wanted to check him. They say the police officer fired on Toro in self-defense.

Toro’s family rejects the story. Based on witness statements, they maintain that Toro had already stopped the car when he was shot. According to Álvaro Toro Alegría, Toro’s father, his son tried to avoid a control because he was an Uber driver, and he could lose his car.

However, he never posed a threat to police, his father said. “They [the car’s occupants] did not have weapons, they are not criminals. Carabineros should have taken him out of the vehicle and arrested him … for not having a license. But to use a weapon against young people without weapons?”

“My son never fled, and if he had fled, he would have been shot from behind. But the vehicle was already stopped, and the policeman shot him from the front,” he added.

Media unjustly paint their son as a criminal, the family says. In the days following the shooting, media followed the police version of events, portraying the incident as an attempted hit-and-run. This despite the inconsistency in the testimonies by police officers, the car’s other occupants, and witnesses.

Toro’s cousin told El Líder San Antonio that “People have been saying that they killed ‘a delinquent,’ that there is ‘one less criminal,’ that David threatened the [police officer] who shot, but all of that is false. My cousin never had a criminal record. Maybe he made a mistake by not stopping the car, but there was no reason to kill him.”

Government on edge after killing of police officer

First potential lawsuit under the Naín-Retamal Law

The killing of Toro took place two days before President Gabriel Boric enacted the Naín-Retamal law, a bill that grants more power and privileges to police officers. The new law has sparked much controversy, with human right organizations warning for “trigger-happy” cops. 

It includes the principle of privileged self-defense, a right that could be used by the police officer concerned to exonerate himself from the incident. However, in order to evoke this principle, it must be proven that the officer was in mortal danger, which has not yet been corroborated.  

The string of contradicting stories and the connection to the Naín-Retamal law has led politicians to demand answers.

Ximena Peralta, the vice-president of governing party Convergencia Social, asked the police to give an official version of the events. “When this fever of very rushed and unreflective legislation passes, we will see what the consequences of it are,” she commented on the new bill. “This case is a warning sign, not a political discussion. It is a young man who died, and his death requires an explanation.”

Toro’s father announced that his family will not cease its search for those within the police institution responsible for his son’s death. “The accusation is against Carabineros and their high commands. Both the person who fired and the person who authorized the use of UZI weapons must be held responsible for the facts.”

According to Alvaro Toro, the family will meet with representatives of the Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos. The organization will help them prepare a legal action against the police officers involved. The family has contacted several witnesses, who, according to them, will testify in the lawsuit.

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