A new forensic report concludes that Pablo Marchant, who died during a confrontation with the police in 2021, was executed. The report states that he was killed by two gunshots, one of which was fired at the back of his head after he was wounded. Police have always maintained that only one shot was fired.
A new forensic study regarding the death of Pablo Marchant supports claims that the militant Mapuche was executed by the police.
Patricia Cuevas Suárez, the deceased’s family’s lawyer, announced that the new independent report, by well-known forensic doctor Luis Ravanal Zepeda, contradicts the official version of events.
According to the official story by the Chilean Prosecutor’s Office, one that is endorsed by Chile’s Medical Forensic Service (SML), Marchant sustained all of his wounds (in his chest, shoulder, arms, and head) from a single shot, one that ultimately led to his death.
Ravanal’s report, however, points to two separate shots.
What happened to Pablo Marchant?
Mapuche community member Pablo Marchant was shot dead by police in July 2021, in Chile’s La Araucanía Region. Marchant, 28 years of age, was a member of Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM), a militant group engaged in a violent struggle for an autonomous Mapuche state.
On July 9, Marchant participated in a “territory recovery operation” on a property owned by lumber company Mininco. The group allegedly tried to sabotage equipment and set fire to several vehicles. A Mininco employee was wounded in the process.
Police arrived at the property and a shootout ensued. According to the police present that day, Marchant jumped out of a hiding position and pointed an M16 assault rifle at them. In self-defense, one officer shot Marchant in the head.
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However, the exact circumstances surrounding Marchant’s death remained murky from the start.
Against protocol, the police involved in Marchant’s death did not wear body cameras. In their testimonies, they stated that the young Mapuche did indeed point a gun at them, but did not shoot. In addition, they stated that Marchant was shot in the head from a distance of about three to four meters.
An initial forensic study by the SML did not offer any conclusive answers about his death.
A second forensic study, ordered by the victim’s family in the months after the incident, concluded that Marchant was hit by two separate shots, one in the arm and one in the back of the head. In addition, this second report also showed that “due to the position of his legs, he [Marchant] would have been on his knees and he was shot with a shotgun in his head.” These conclusions contradicted the testimonies by the police officers and the results of the SML study.
“A shot fired with a shotgun resting on the head”
Recently, family lawyer Cuevas reported to have new information from a third study, this time by doctor Ravanal.
Ravanal’s report confirms the findings of the second forensic study. It states that the injury caused to Marchant’s skull is consistent with a shotgun shot fired with support. “The massive destruction of the skull, that caused exteriorization of brain mass, are typical injuries consistent with a shot fired with the barrel of a shotgun resting on the head.”
In addition, “there are concordant injuries caused by a shotgun shot at medium distance in the anterior right shoulder, anterior right rib cage and anterior right upper arm … which add up to a multiplicity of signs that [these injuries] are not related to the mortal wound that was produced through an entrance in the posterior zone of the temporal region at the level of the right ear, since these are the product of a shot fired to the anterior surface of the victim’s thorax.”
The existence of bruises on the victims torso, arms, and shoulders “allow establishing with a high degree of certainty that the victim received at least two ballistic impacts from shotgun shots, one from in back of the right ear, and another from the front, which injured the shoulder, arm, and right rib cage.”
The study therefore corroborates the earlier claims that Marchant was hit by two shots, one of which was fired at the back of his head, after he was wounded.
According to Cuevas, this second forensic report not only confirms the existence of two shots, but it also proves clear flaws in the SML autopsy protocol.
Ravanal’s study concludes that, given the state in which the body was found, “it is absolutely necessary to perform a second autopsy in order to correct the omissions found after the study of the expert reports.”
“We hope that, after the incorporation of this report, the SML investigation will be objective, serious and that the facts will be investigated as they really happened,” Cuevas said.
Matthijs is a newly graduated journalism student from Groningen, the Netherlands. As a starting journalist and aspiring foreign correspondent, he decided to extend his 6-month university exchange in Chile to do an internship at Chile Today. He enjoys writing about a broad range of topics, but international relations, politics and conflicts are his key interests.