Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Mac Margolis

How Police Threaten Rio's Peace

The death of a teenager is a blow to the state's anti-crime effort.
The pacifiers need to be pacified.

The pacifiers need to be pacified.

Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

Even in Brazil, a land calloused by crime, the death of 17-year-old Eduardo Felipe Santos Victor in a Rio de Janeiro slum was a jolt. On Sept. 29, a foot patrol from one of Rio's elite "pacification" units shot Santos, an alleged drug dealer. Then -- as captured on video -- a cop appeared to place a pistol in the prostrate teenager's hand and fire twice.

The footage aired on national news and spread on social media. Outraged residents stoned buses and protested at Santos's funeral. Rio authorities acted quickly, putting the five police officers involved in jail. But more than culling bad cops, Rio needs to rethink its police.