Three police officers to stand trial over alleged killings of civilians

Three police officers face homicide charges over the killings of four civilians in Bogota on 9 and 10 September 2020. The alleged crimes were committed during public protests following the death in custody of 44-year-old Javier Ordóñez, who was filmed pleading for mercy as officers repeeatedly beat and tasered him. Several social media videos showed police apparently shooting indiscriminately into crowds.

Police officers Andrés Eduardo Díaz Mercado, Jhon Antonio Gutiérrez Rodríguez and José Andrés Lasso Valencia face homicide charges. Defence lawyers have requested that the case be transferred from the standard justice system to a military court. Victims’ lawyers have opposed the request and argue that the deaths were caused in a context of systematic aggression towards civilian protest.

According to lawyer Nadia Triviño, who is representing the victims, ’14 people were killed in the same modus operandi: police using their firearms against protesters.’ She asserts that one of the unarmed victims, Germán Puentes Valero, was shot in the back and that Officer Díaz Mercado fired his weapon on at least 21 occasions. The accused officer subsequently provided false information as to his whereabouts and falsely claimed to have been injured by protesters.

Officer Lasso Valencia is accused over the killing of 19-year-old Angie Paola Baquero Rojas in north Bogota, while Officer Gutiérrez Rodríguez faces charges in the death of Andrés Rodríguez Ávila, a 22-year-old car wash attendant.

Following the violent repression of the protests, Bogota’s mayor Claudia López accused police of disobeying her orders and shooting indiscriminately at civilians. Colombia’s Supreme Court also declared that police behave with systematic violence towards situations of public protest.