Man dies after being detained in smoke-filled trunk by Brazilian police 

Protests erupted after video emerged of the Black man's encounter with authorities.

Protests have erupted in Brazil after video emerged of a Black man who later died being held inside the trunk of a police vehicle filled with tear gas. 

A CBS News report referenced a one-minute video on Twitter that shows police throwing a man identified as Genivaldo de Jesus Santos, 38, into the back of a police vehicle and locking him in with a smoke grenade on May 24. The man is kicking his legs, which are sticking out of the police SUV. Eventually the movement stops. 

Santos was later pronounced dead at a hospital, CBS reported, adding that a preliminary autopsy revealed that his death was the result of respiratory failure due to “mechanical asphyxia.”

“The population is outraged,” a man says in a video of the protest posted on Twitter. “They murdered the guy!” another person tells a crowd through a loudspeaker.

Jovem Pan News YouTube Genivaldo de Jesus Santos
The legs of Genivaldo de Jesus Santos are visible in video from Jovem Pan News . ( Screenshot: Jovem Pan News via YouTube)

Santos’ widow, Maria Fabiana dos Santos, told the Guardian that the officers broke the law. “This was a crime. They acted with cruelty to kill him,” she said. 

Santos’ nephew Alisson de Jesus said he witnessed the traffic stop, according to a local report that CBS News translated. His uncle, he said, told the officers that he had medication in his pockets and that he suffered from mental health problems. De Jesus described what happened to his uncle as “a torture session.” 

Santos suffered from schizophrenia, according to the Guardian report. The Guardian also noted a statistic from the Brazilian Forum of Public Security: Police killed 6,416 people in Brazil in 2020 and almost 80 percent of them were Black people. Brazil’s population is about 56 percent Black, the forum says.

According to CBS News, Santos was the subject of a traffic stop in Umbaúba, a city in the northeastern state of  Sergipe. The Federal Highway Police released a statement that said Santos was aggressive and “actively” resisted the officers who immobilized him, and that to contain him they used “instruments of lesser offensive potential.” 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he would look into the matter. Meanwhile, the five officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave, according the CBS News report. 

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