Authorities in the Dominican Republic want a police officer to be held in pre-trial detention for a year pending the outcome of an investigation after reports said he fatally shot a 12-year-old boy during an altercation with the victim’s father. According to Daily Mail, the fatal Sunday incident occurred during a carnival in the Caribbean nation.
The victim, identified as Donaly Martínez, was fatally struck by a bullet as his father Anthony Martínez and sergeant Alejandro Castro engaged in a tussle. The victim’s father told reporters the fatal encounter happened in front of his barbershop, adding that they were drinking and playing music when police officers came to the location. Anthony Martínez said the officers told them that though they could continue playing the music, they had to ultimately turn it off when the carnival dancers and singers arrived.
Anthony Martínez said things, however, escalated and the officers left the scene. But he said they came back after 20 minutes and attempted to forcefully seize the speaker they were using to play the music. The victim’s father also said the speaker was in a vehicle, and the officers opened its passenger door to take the device.
In the footage of the incident, Castro is seen confronting a group of people and pulling out his service weapon. Anthony Martinez is later seen charging at Castro before they end up tussling on the ground.
“When I tell him just wait, let’s talk, he pepper sprayed me,” Anthony Martínez said. “Then I get next to him and he pushes me and I threw a punch. There he takes out the gun that he had in the hand.”
In the wake of the incident, social media reports claimed the bullet that struck Donaly came from a weapon his father was carrying, Daily Mail reported. But Anthony Martinez said that was untrue.
“When he pulls out on me that is where I grab his arm and I hug him and we fall to the ground,” the deceased juvenile’s father said. “That’s when I heard the gun discharge.”
Donaly was playing with a phone and sitting at the time of the incident. He succumbed to his injuries after he was taken to a clinic. The deceased 12-year-old was buried on Monday.
“Eleven years by my side for the police to kill him in the street, 11 years by my side,” an emotional Anthony Martinez said.
Abel Martínez, who is the mayor of Santiago, extended his sympathies to the victim’s family and also asked the government to fast-track its police reform initiative. The mayor also condemned the police for not quickly rendering medical help to Donaly after his father was arrested. “It is not possible that, in a festive, public environment, police teams are sent as if we were in a high-risk operation, with heavily armed agents, with ski masks and unnecessary paraphernalia to be among people who are simply enjoying themselves healthily, without weapons, in a family (setting) and even worse, leaving to preserve the integrity of the agent who shot and leaving the wounded child … It is something unusual,” the mayor added in the statement.
“This death fills us with great pain and we should call for the consideration of the Police Reform, which is in a process of inertia and lethargy.”