Lethal force

Lethal force

It’s a story heard too often in this country: a person apprehended by the police is shot dead ostensibly after scuffling with the arresting officer for the cop’s gun. It’s in the same thread as the suspect who is shot dead by police purportedly while trying to escape.

In some cases, the fatality is alleged to have scuffled with police while still in handcuffs. This was not the case with Edwin Arnigo, who was shot dead by policemen who raided an illegal cockfighting site or tupada in Valenzuela City last Sunday. Grieving relatives said the 18-year-old was within the autism spectrum, was afraid of police, and had simply gone out of their house to buy ice candy. Citing witnesses’ accounts, the relatives said Arnigo was not even inside the tupada when one of the policemen locked him in an embrace and shot him. Arnigo was simply brought to the cockfighting site, the relatives said. He was later taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead of a gunshot that pierced his heart and lungs. His shirt was taken off.

Four members of the Valenzuela police raiding team have been relieved pending investigation: M/Sgt. Christopher Salcedo who fired the fatal shot as well as Corporals Kenneth Pacheco, Rex Paredes and Rodel Villar. Upon the request of Arnigo’s relatives, the National Bureau of Investigation has taken the lead role in the probe. The police chief of Valenzuela, Col. Ramchrisen Haveria, maintained that based on their investigation, the fatal shooting was an accident. Haveria should also face NBI probers.

The raiding team reported that three persons including Arnigo were apprehended during the raid in Barangay Lingunan. Bet money amounting to P1,340 and three fighting cocks were confiscated. The items seized indicate the micro scale of the illegal cockfight, for which the police raiders found it necessary to use lethal force against an alleged participant.

There are supposed to be rules governing armed police responses to a threat, especially when the other party is an unarmed civilian, with the preservation of life always a paramount objective. But life has become cheap in the brutal style of law enforcement under this administration. The nation continues to reel from the consequences of having trigger-happy cops who are primed to shoot to kill.