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Violent protests erupt in Colombia after the death of a man repeatedly tasered by police

Violent protests broke out in Bogotá, Colombia, on Wednesday night following the death of a Colombian father of two who died after police repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun.

A video of the encounter between the man, Javier Humberto Ordoñez, and two officers has circulated on social media. Ordoñez, 46, can be seen face down on the ground as two officers kneel on him and repeatedly use their stun guns on him. Ordoñez can be heard saying, "Please, no more," as witnesses urge police to stop. He later died at a local hospital.

Police said the incident took place in the capital early Wednesday when Ordoñez was drinking alcohol in the street with others, which was in violation of social distancing rules designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.  The officers have been relieved of their duties while investigations take place, authorities said.

Colonel Guillén Alexander Amaya Olmos, head of the local police force, said the officers were called to reports of a fight in the street by concerned neighbors and that officers arrived to find eight "intoxicated" people. "They became aggressive," Amaya told local media. "The police had to subdue them."

In an interview with Semana Noticias, Juan David Uribe, a man who said he was with Ordoñez, called the account "false" and said there had been no argument.

The video drew hundreds of protesters to the streets, many of whom clashed with officers outside the police post where Ordóñez was held. Buses and police stations were set on fire, and many businesses and vehicles were damaged. 

At least seven people died in the demonstrations, according to authorities, and police took nearly 70 people into custody. There were 248 people injured, including 100 police officers, Bogota Mayor Claudia López said.

Five of those who died had been shot, Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo told reporters. He offered a reward for information leading to the capture of "the authors of the homicides."

COLOMBIA police protest
Police officers confront demonstrators in Bogota, early on September 10, 2020.  STR/AFP via Getty

López condemned the incident on Twitter, calling it an example of "unacceptable police brutality," but urged protesters to refrain from vandalism and violence. "I am absolutely aware that we need structural police reform," López said. "But destroying Bogotá is not going to fix the police."

In an interview with Reuters, Ordóñez's family called for justice and peaceful protest. "He was murdered by the police officers," said Eliana Marcela Garzon, his former sister-in-law. "We don't want (deaths) in a country already full of conflict, we want justice."

Garzon said police reform is needed, especially for children like her nephews. "I don't want them to grow up feeling like there isn't justice in this country," she said. "I want them to grow up knowing laws are followed."

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