The killing of 46-year-old law student and taxi driver Javier Ordóñez in Bogotá early September 9 has been met with widespread rejection. The killing of the law student and father of two comes in a particularly tense time in Colombia where 54 massacres have been registered in 2020, and on September 7 alone four were reported which left 14 fatal victims. The social and economic conditions in the country have eroded to record lows due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.
According to reports, Ordóñez was hanging out and drinking at a friend’s condominium in the neighborhood of Engativa in Bogotá. When him and his friends left the complex to buy something, police agents arrested them. In a video which has circulated widely on social media, Ordóñez is pinned down to the ground by two police officers who repeatedly tased him and kneeled on him despite his pleas of “please, please stop.” His friends, who were filming the incident, also pleaded with the cops to stop attacking him. After tasing him 11 times over the span of a couple minutes, the police officers brought him, in a severely weakened state, to the local station in order to press charges against him for beating an officer. By the time he was at the station Ordóñez was already in a severely weakened state and he was then brought to a local clinic where he died shortly after.
On Wednesday morning, it was announced that the Attorney General of Colombia has opened an investigation on the police officers who participated in the killing.
The incident has been widely denounced by citizens and human rights organizations alike who are also trying to refute the narrative that Ordóñez died a “natural death” and that the police’s actions were justified. Progressive member of Congress Angela María Robledo wrote “Receiving more than 11 electric shocks, a beating and begging 17 times before dying, is not a natural death, nor a bad proceeding; it is an assassination.”
Colombian musician J. Balvin also commented on the killing, “He said ‘please’ so many times while the police knew they were being recorded and ended the life of Javier Ordóñez without mercy. What is wrong with these cops?”
Protests have erupted outside of the police station where Ordóñez was taken to denounce the police violence and brutality.
#Atención🚨| A raíz del asesinato del abogado Javier Ordoñez por parte de dos Policías, quienes lo golpearon y le dieron choques eléctricos a pesar de que pedía que por favor se detuvieran, se registran en Bogotá protestas contra la brutalidad policial. #ColombianLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/Yihu0B8DC7
— Colombia Informa (@Col_Informa) September 9, 2020
The case even drew the attention of the Colombian National Government. The Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo stated “The Ministry of Defense rejects and condemns any action of a member of the Police that consists of a violation to the law or to internal regulations.”
The Mayor of Bogotá Claudia López also expressed her rejection of the incident “We offer the family of Javier legal assistance so that there is an exemplary sentence, not only to those directly responsible, but so that there is a structural reform that prevents and sanctions police abuse. This is not about one rotten apple. Life is sacred!” However, it is important to point out that López and her administration have been behind several violent police operations throughout the past several months to evict communities in poor neighborhoods despite being in the midst of the pandemic. In these operations not only have dozens of families been left homeless but many were also injured by the police violence.
On social media, many have drawn the connection between Ordóñez’s murder to the brutal murder of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis, US on May 25 who was similarly pinned down by police officers and pleaded for his life until he was finally killed.
Telesur journalist Tatiana Pérez wrote on twitter, “George Floyd in the United States or Dylan Cruz in Colombia. It is a system of maximum aggression without reason, it doesn’t matter the country.”