São Paulo: The Case of the Kentucky-Fried Chicken Thief, Redux

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Bauru: sort of São Paulo’s Buffalo.

The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison, the runaway son sleeps,
The murderer that is to be hung next day, how does he sleep?
And the murder’d person, how does he sleep?

Walt Whitman, “The Sleepers”

Ten of the shock marks are on the head, in areas such as the eyelids, ears and face. Four on the thorax and two on the scrotum. The others were in areas such as the hands, back and foot. The police say the young man had no criminal record.

According to Pinezi, the owner of the motorcycle did recognize the boy as the thief. This identification was made, according to the defense of the PMs accused, at the boy’s open-casket wake.

Zé Dirceu wants São Paulo Governor Serra (from a rival political party) to say something about about a young kid from Bauru who died after being tortured with electric shocks by six military policemen.

A matéria “Serra não comenta laudo que compromete policiais militares”, da Folha de hoje (só para assinantes) diz que o governador de São Paulo, o tucano José Serra não quis comentar o laudo do IML que apontou que o garoto Carlos Rodrigues Júnior recebeu choques após ser abordado por PMs e morreu em conseqüência da tortura que sofreu dos policiais. A exemplo do que aconteceu em outras oportunidades em que seu governo foi colocado em xeque – como no caso do acidente na Estação Pinheiros do Metrô – o governador tucano prefere o silêncio, a omissão.

The Folha reports that Serra had not comment on the medical examiner’s report showing that young Carlos Rodrigues Júnior received electrical shocks after being detained by military police and died as a consequence of torture he suffered from those police. As on other opportunities when his government was in a tight spot — as in the collapse of excavations for the city subway system’s Pinheiros Station — the Toucan governor prefers silence, omission.

(Serra was not governor when the Yellow Line contracts were signed with the Metrô authority, to be fair. That, I believe, was the other Other Bald Toucan. Not sure, though.)

Serra left it up to his state public security chief, Mr. Marzagaõ. The Folha:

O secretário também não falou. Limitou-se a enviar a reprodução de um comentário feito em Sorocaba. “A posição da Secretaria está expressa desde o primeiro momento. Assim que o Comando da PM soube do fato, prendeu em flagrante todos os envolvidos, sob a acusação de homicídio. O bom policial tem toda a proteção do Estado. Aos que têm desvio de conduta, aplicam-se os rigores da lei.”

The secretary also did not comment. He limited himself to sending a copy of a comment he made in Sorocaba. “My position has been explicit since the start. As soon as the military police command learned of the fact, it arrested all those involved on murder charges. The good policeman has the full protection of the state. To those who engage in misconduct, the law is rigorously applied.”

Personally, if those police are thoroughly investigated and appropriate sentences handed out to the guilty, I will be plenty happy, with or without noisy declarations from local politicians. There are historical reasons to be concerned they may not be.

On the other hand, the sentencing of police involved in the Baixada Massacre — cops playing futebol with human heads, then cruising up and down the road, executing more random human beings, just minding their own business, than even the infamous Texas Tower sniper managed to bag — by a civilian court was probably a lot more significant than indicated by the amount of ink it got. See

Last time we were in New York, I notice Mayor Bloomberg was equally circumspect after making extemporaneous public remarks about a case in which a young man was shot 50 times by police in the Jamaica, Queens terminal of the Airtrain to JFK International.

Such cases are more of a shocking anomaly in New York than they are here. New York is still pretty punk rock, but the chaos tends to be kept to a manageable level (<5 homicides per 100,000 per year.)

The anomalous aspect of this case, it seems to me, would be if it were to become a media cause célèbre, with genuine pressure from a press that pays close attention to whether it gets resolved or not, rather than just moving on to clucking its tongue over the next in the endless series of grotesque bloodbaths. See also

Our mayor made a remark at the time about the Jamaica shooting seeming like overkill — something like 50 shots were fired, if I remember right — and was then roundly criticized for a remark that could influence the trial of the officers in the case.

In the U.S., pretrial publicity is often taken seriously by judges as a factor potentially affecting the impartiality of the jury pool.

So Bloomie shut up and confined himself to boilerplate statements very similar to the one Mr. Marzagão is sticking to.

Which actually seems like a good idea to me.

There are more than enough words floating around already.

Somebody just freaking do something.

Politicizing justice is a sleep of reason that breeds nightmares.

The source of Dirceu’s complaint: That this is a standard case of the native media’s double standard and partisan bias.

A mídia, aliás, parece acompanhar a postura silenciosa do governador. Ao contrário do que aconteceu com o caso da menina presa numa cela com 30 homens no Pará, quando os jornais atacaram pesado a governadora petista, Ana Júlia Carepa, só faltando pedir o seu impeachment, nesse caso da morte de um adolescente sob tortura de PMs no interior de São Paulo, os jornais fazem de tudo para esconder ao máximo o nome do governador José Serra. Nem parece que Serra é o comandante em chefe da Polícia Militar.

The media seems to be following the governor’s example. Unlike the case in which a young woman was held in a cell with 30 men in Pará, when the newspapers mounted a powerful attack on the PT governor, practically calling for her impeachment, in this case of a teenager tortured to death by PMs in São Paulo state, the newspapers do everything to keep Serra’s name out of it. You would not even know that Serra is commander in chief of the military police.

Dirceu says, in noting the original report, that this is mais um crime cometido pela Polícia Militar do governador José Serra.

“Yet another crime committed by Serra’s Military Police.”

If only it were that simple.

See, for example,

The problem with military police organizations in Brazil, it seems to me, is that they tend to deny fiercely that they are subordinate to any civilian control, whether by the Other Bald Toucan or the “terrorists who now run Brazil,” as you often hear the current federal government referred to.

Military police, historically, have only been tried in military courts, for example.

Elected governments come and go, but the hog heaven of the hard men abides forever.

The cops run their own candidates — former Rio police chief Álvaro Lins, for example, or Police Inspector Maggessi, or the late Colonel Ubiratã (ballot code: 111) — and if they lose, they simply ignore the result. This insubordination is on ostentatious display. See for example

As someone raised by a lieutenant colonel (Ret.) in the United States Army, and who grew up around Army bases, I am constantly mind-blown by such things.

Back home in Gringoland — a paradise where broadband Internet costs $5 a month — the military men give their opinion when it is asked for (General Shinseki: We are going to need 500,000 troops).

If it is rejected (Rumsfeld: we can do it with 150,000 and be out of there in six months, with rose petals still moist and fresh on our desert camouflage fatigues), they snap to attention, salute, and execute the mission they are given. They tend to vote Republican, sure — my granddad was a diehard Truman Democrat, did not dislike Ike, but got drunk and danced around yelling “Whoopee!” in the front yard on the day Nixon resigned — but when Bubba the draft dodger told them to shoot a cruise missile at a Somali aspirin factory, they did it anyway.

The bitter maxim of the good soldier: “Ours not to reason why, ours but to do, and to die.”

There is some justice to this observation of a double standard in the media, I admit. It can be illustrated to exhaustion with examples of shrieking bullshit. And Mr. Dirceu’s personal and political stake in the issue is well known (“Zé Dirceu, Maoist Cuban gangster and superspy, ordered the assassiation of Clinton’s friend and former law partner, Vince Foster!”)

But the shtick is getting a little old. And it hardly seems appropriate in this case.

Besides, this case has gotten fairly ample coverage, by Brazilian standards, in the major news agencies and the local press. Or so it seems to me, from a quick look at Google News Brasil.

It is a legitimate national story at this point, with national projection.

Whether it is a story that will be followed up on to its conclusion by the national news media is doubtful. But maybe the local media will stick to the story.I am bookmarking the Bauru papers. I have been meaning to try to learn a little bit more about Bauru.

We spent a week at a pousada recently and met a couple from there whose level of conversation seemed to indicate that there might actually be highly intelligent life forms there.

What would be more desirable than subjecting Serra to the same kind of gabbling ratfink would be for the press to just stop engaging in the gabbling political ratfink altogether to focus on actual public-minded problem-solving.

The Folha tried to elicit a response from the Governor, and he did not want to respond. What else can you do? Put words in his mouth?

You can tell that the political silly season is arriving. It is not really all that different in kind than our political silly season, but has a certain uniquely tropical virulence to it that constantly astonishes.

If I were the Other Bald Toucan’s flack, though, I maybe would have had him give a reason for not responding, one that made him look judicious rather than evasive in doing so. There are legitimate reasons for keeping mum about efforts to police the criminal police. Operational security, for example.

But I would also like to have some assurances that getting police violence and criminality under control is a priority, and is being worked on. Marzagão, I am sorry to say, does not tend to reassure me.

This affects us directly and personally.

Even me, the non-voting alien IPTU payer.

Our neighborhood was not touched too directly by the May 2006 PM-PCC wars, but a bus was burned at an intersection in the neighboring Vila Madá where we often stop for chopp. We were in New York at the time.

My wife was in a bank robbery a year or so ago, right up here by the local subway station, but managed to slip out before the police came in blasting indiscriminately.

The wounded robbers, armed to the freaking teeth, fled down the ladeira and tried to grab a taxi at our local ponto. Right down the block here at that encruzilhada that could really, really use a stoplight. Or so Carlão, the chefe there at the ponto, relates. And Carlão is a trusted local service provider, as far as we are concerned. A prince among men. We believe Carlão.

We really do not care who gets it done, or care to spend much time debating why it was not done sooner as a substitute for working on getting it done.

We just want it to get done.

In the meantime, politicagens aside, and what of the cadaver in the case?

How does he sleep?

O garoto Carlos Rodrigues Júnior, 15, morto após ser abordado por policiais militares em sua casa, por suspeita de roubar uma moto, recebeu 30 choques elétricos pelo corpo. Dois deles foram do lado esquerdo do peito e atingiram o coração do jovem, provocando uma parada cardiorrespiratória.

Carlos Rodrigues Junior, 15, who died after being detained by military police in his home on suspicion of stealing a motorcycle, received 30 electrical shocks to his body. Two of them were administered to the left side of his chest and affected his heart, provoking cardiac arrest.

A informação é do laudo necroscópico divulgado ontem pelo IML (Instituto Médico Legal) de Bauru (SP), onde o adolescente morreu.

The information is from the medical examiner’s office (IML) in Bauru, where the teenager died.

Um fio que poderia ter provocado os choques foi apreendido com um dos seis policiais presos após a morte do menino. Segundo o diretor do IML da cidade, Ivan Edson Rodrigues Segura, o material pode ser compatível com as lesões.

A wire that could have been used to administer the shocks was apprehended in the possession of one of the six policemen arrested after the boy’s death. According to the director the Bauru IML, the material apprehended is compatible with the wounds.

Other reports say one of the police was seen retrieving the wire from the trunk of his squad car. Is this standard-issue equipment, do you think?

“Se você pega um fio e coloca em uma tomada, ele pode dar choque. As lesões podem ser provocadas por um fio”, disse.

“If you take a wire and place it in an electrical outlet, it can administer a shock. The injuries could have been provoked by a wire,” he said.

Belaboring the obvious. Medical examiners tend to be methodical to a fault, of course.

Dez das marcas dos choques estão na cabeça -em áreas como pálpebras, orelhas e face. Quatro no tórax e duas no saco escrotal. As outras estavam em áreas como mãos, costas e pé. O jovem, segundo a polícia, não tinha histórico criminal.

Ten of the shock marks are on the head, in areas such as the eyelids, ears and face. Four on the thorax and two on the scrotum. The others were in areas such as the hands, back and foot. The police say the young man had no criminal record.

“Houve duas lesões de corrente elétrica na região mamária esquerda. Essas duas correntes induziram a um trajeto pelo coração, levando a uma arritmia cardíaca e à morte.”

“There were two wounds caused by electric current in the area of the left nipple. These two shocks passed through the heart, leading to cardiac arrest and death.”

Segura não soube precisar se o garoto tinha alguma doença ou estava debilitado antes das agressões. Além dos 30 choques, o menino tinha seis marcas pelo corpo, que podem ter sido causadas por objetos ou por socos e pontapés.

The IML director could not state whether the victim had any illness or was physically debilitated before being attacked.

Why does it matter?

Is it police procedure to make sure a suspect is healthy before you light his scrotum up like the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree? Or, to recall an infamous New York case — “Giuliani time!” — shoving a broken broom handle up his ass?

Besides the 30 shocks, the boy had six marks on his body that could have been caused by objects, or by punches and kicks.

O delegado seccional de Bauru, Doniseti José Pinezi, disse não ter dúvidas de que os PMs presos torturaram o garoto de 15 anos.

The sectional (state judicial) police commander for Bauru said there was no doubt that the military policeman arrested had tortured the boy.

… Os policiais negam as acusações.

The policemen denies the charges.

“Podemos afirmar categoricamente que houve tortura”, afirmou. “O inquérito vai tramitar pela delegacia seccional de Bauru para apurar eventual delito de homicídio qualificado, abuso de autoridade e tortura seguida de morte.”

“We can state categorically that torture occurred,” the [section commander] said. “The investigation will be conducted here in Bauru into possible homicide, abuse of authority and torture followed by death.”

O roubo da moto que originou a ocorrência, bem como a origem dos 330 gramas de maconha encontradas na casa de Carlos Rodrigues Júnior, serão investigados pela Polícia Civil.

The theft of the motorcycle that led to the incident, as well as the origin of 330 grams of marijuana [allegedly] found in the boy’s house, will also be investigated.

Segundo o delegado Pinezi, o dono da moto reconheceu o menino como sendo o ladrão. Esse reconhecimento foi feito, segundo a defesa dos PMs acusados, no velório do rapaz.

According to Pinezi, the owner of the motorcycle recognized the boy as the thief. This identification was made, according to the defense of the PMs accused, at the boy’s open-casket wake.

Their defense is going to be, what? That, hey, at least they tortured the correct thieving little nigger to death? Is that it? Jesus fucking Christ.

If the police report was accurate — it was gisted extensively in a local newspaper — they found the stolen property in the possession of the suspect after being invited to enter by the boy’s mother. (She denied this version to reporters.)

Which is great. Take subject to jail. Case closed. Right?

I am asking my childhood buddy, who is a (hulking, mean-looking, .45-packing) police sergeant in a big, scary U.S. city. He says that’s right. Take suspect to jail. Go home. Have a beer. Relax. Get a life. Job well done. Don’t take the job home with you. It’s not worth it.

O tenente Roger Marcel Soares de Souza, o cabo Gerson Gonzaga da Silva, e os soldados Emerson Ferreira, Ricardo Ottaviani, Mauricio Augusto Delasta e Juliano Arcângelo, que participaram da operação que resultou na morte de Carlos Rodrigues Júnior, continuam presos em São Paulo. Após o crime, moradores chegaram a fazer um protesto no bairro. Eles queimaram pneus e quebraram orelhões.

Lieutenant Roger Marcel Soares de Souza, Cpl. Gonzaga da Silva, and Pvts. Ferreira, Ottaviani, Delast and Arcângelo, who took part in the operation that led to the death, remain under arrest in São Paulo. After the crime, residents mounted a protest in the neighborhood. They burned tires and broke public telephone kiosks.

By some accounts, it was the lieutenant who arrested his men on the scene. Checking.

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