A 16-year-old Brazilian woman was blinded in her left eye after being hit by a rubber bullet fired by a military policeman at the entrance of a funk ball outside Sao Paulo on Sunday morning. "The policeman took aim in my face, shot and mocked me," said the victim.
Gabriella Talhaferro is a young student of the first year of high school (secondary school in Brazil). He lives with his family in an apartment in the Vila Virgínia neighborhood of Itaquaquecetuba, a city in the Greater São Paulo region.
Last Saturday, Gabriella had arranged to meet up with 15 friends to the Beira Rio Ball, a funk street party that gathers hundreds of young people in the early hours of Saturday to Sunday in the Guaianases region of the eastern city of Sao Paulo. It was the second time she went to that ball and left home "very happy," the teenager told her. brazilian site Ponte Jornalismo.
But a night that was supposed to be a party ended in a nightmare. Arriving at the ballroom, the young people were warned that the event would not be held, since the Military Police had been there since the early hours of the afternoon, preventing it from taking place.
Even without the ball, Gabriella and her friends decided to stay, because it was already midnight and there was no way back home, there was no transport. At around 2 am, agents of the 28th Metropolitan Military Police Battalion began to disperse the small groups that had bombs there, demanding that they leave the area.
"At that time we went to the station to try to leave, but the guards wouldn't let us stay, so we came back," Gabriella recalls. When they returned to the scene, the young people decided to stand in front of a cellar to prevent the police from confronting the group. That was when the worst happened.
"I was in front of the cellar when I was shot. They came in the car, stopped in the street and when I turned my face the policeman shot. They were right in front of me. He was in the car. He didn't even get down. He aimed at my face and shot." , tells the young girl. The four cops in a corporate car pulled up ahead. Gabriella was bloody, in pain and vomiting, when the agents reportedly refused medical attention and one of them even laughed at the situation.
"We asked them to call for help and they said 'turn around'. 'One still said' go away 'while the other laughed. I can recognize everyone: what he shot what cursed me (insulted) and laughed at me. It doesn't get out of my head, "she said.
The help was eventually provided by people in the cellar because, before being shot, Gabriella lost her friends and had her cell phone without a battery. The cellar owner called a Uber driver, who drove her to the emergency room. As Itaquera's UPA did not have a specialist doctor for that emergency, the young woman was taken to a public hospital, where she could not be seen either.
Gabriella received treatment only around 6 am on Sunday morning, when she arrived at São Paulo Hospital, about 30 kilometers from where she was shot. According to Gabriella's mother, emergency surgery was performed, but the loss of vision in the left eye could not be prevented.
You have to bandage every hour
"Now that we are at home we need to change the dressing and drip an eye drop every hour. Another eye drop is applied every four hours. This is more painful and uncomfortable for my daughter," said Kelly Talhaferro, who said earlier have spent 200 reais (about 43 euros) on medicines. The young woman should return this Thursday to the Sao Paulo Hospital to continue treatment, which may result in removal of the eyeball. Gabriella doesn't plan to go back to school this year.
"What hurts me is that they were not at war with bandits. They are teenagers. I researched and saw that my daughter was not the only one to be shot under these conditions. And all the shots were in the left eye and never a culprit was punished," lamented the victim's mother.
According to Military Police regulations, rubber bullets should only be used in restricted cases against an "active, right and specific aggressor" and never at random against a crowd. It is considered wrong to use these bullets to disperse protesters and, if fired, should be fired within 20 meters of the target, "accurately" and "directed at the active aggressor's lower limbs."
Gabriella says she'll never go to a funk ball again and now understands some people's anger at the police. "They did it because they're bad. They do it to anyone. I thought the police news at funk ball was normal until it happened to me. When I heard reports, the first thing I said was that the person didn't have to be there. I wasn't doing it." nothing ", remembers the teenager.
The future is unknown, but Gabriella doesn't think about giving up. "The plug has not yet fallen. I thought my life was over, I was blaming myself a lot. But it's not my fault. I didn't ask for that to happen. I left home all happy. My life can't end because of that."
Case reported on social networks
Darlan Mendes, a human rights activist, denounced the situation with a post on his Facebook page, with a video of the shooting and photos of Gabriella's injury. Darlan has been providing support to the family and says there is no point in banning funk balls if the government does not provide a solution. "It is the option of leisure at night, our youth really likes to enjoy life, go out and have fun. You can not stand this policy that everything is solved in the bomb and paula," criticized the activist to the site Ponte Journalismo.
"We have to stress that it is important to report not only cases like Gabriella, but also verbal and physical aggressions. Many police officers use rib blows to leave no marks, force them to sit on clasped hands, or invade privacy in approach, forcing them to person to put the password on their mobile phone and let them see their social networks and photos, "Darlan added.
Sao Paulo Police Ombudsman Benedito Mariano said that mother and daughter are waiting to be heard and register the complaint. In a statement, the Secretariat of Public Security reported that "the Military Police clarify that on November 9, police officers of the 28th BPM / M were conducting the operation 'Quiet Night', with the aim of curbing occurrences of disturbance of calm, when it was the use of disturbance control techniques to contain the crowd is necessary ".
"Until the end of the incident there were no reports of injured people, but upon learning of the case cited by the report, the Command of the 28th Metropolitan Battalion has instituted an investigative procedure to investigate the circumstances. To date, the Civil Police has not found a record occurrence report ", adds the statement.
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