Human Rights Social Crisis

Police Officer Convicted of Attempted Murder During Protests

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RANCAGUA – A police officer from Rancagua has been convicted of attempted murder during the social protests of 2019. The officer had shot a tear gas canister at the head of a protester at close range, leaving the protester severely wounded. The officer’s lawyer said that the officer will serve his sentence on probation.

On December 13, 2019, a police officer shot a tear gas canister at a protester in Rancagua in the O’Higgins region. The officer, part of a special forces group, shot the projectile at the victim’s head while the victim was already walking away, less than nine meters away. The shot left the victim severely wounded, with, among other injuries, a fractured skull and a cerebral hematoma that required several surgeries.

All the events were recorded by a security camera. According to prosecutor Nicolás Núñez of the Rancagua court, the evidence convinced the court “that we were facing a crime of attempted murder.” The prosecutor asked for five years in prison and the officer will receive his sentence next Monday, Aug. 3. As of the date the officer was charged with wrongdoing in March 5, he had already been discharged from the Chilean police force. The conviction is one of the first convictions of a police officer accused of committing crimes during the social protests.

The officer’s attorney expects the sentence will be more lenient than requested. He cited mitigating factors, including “collaboration in the investigation and the payment of compensation to the affected party.” He added, “At the reading of the verdict the court already established that my defendant will serve his sentence, whatever it may be … in probation.”

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