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Colombian man dies after police stun-gun shocks, prompting protests

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A Colombian father of two died in Bogota after police officers detained and repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun despite his pleas for them to stop, authorities said on Wednesday, igniting violent protests.

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Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez called it an example of “unacceptable police brutality” on her Twitter account.

The incident took place early Wednesday in the capital city when, according to police, Javier Humberto Ordonez, 46, was drinking alcohol in the street with others, in violation of social distancing rules designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In a widely shared video, Ordonez is pinned to the ground by two officers and subjected to successive electric shocks as he begs them, “Please, no more.”

Ordonez was subsequently taken to a police station where his friends and family allege he was subjected to more abuse. He died later in a hospital.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the police station where Ordonez was held, according to a Reuters witness, some using trash cans, rocks and sticks to batter the windows. The station and a police vehicle were graffitied and a motorcycle burned.

Two police stations were set on fire and three others attacked in different areas of Bogota, the national police said, along with violent protests in other cities including Medellin, Ibague and Pereira.

“We’ll offer Javier’s family legal assistance so there is a conviction not only of those directly responsible, but also to see structural reform that prevents and punishes police brutality,” Lopez, the mayor, said on Twitter.

The officers have been relieved of their duties while investigations take place, authorities said.

“There can be no tolerance for abuse of uniform or of authority,” President Ivan Duque said during an event, adding that “objective” penalties should be applied.

Police involvement in civilian deaths in Colombia is infrequent but not unheard of. Teenager Dilan Cruz died last November during mass protests after being hit by a police projectile and members of the trans community regularly accuse police of violence.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Luisa Fernanda Gonzalez; Writing by Oliver Griffin and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler

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