Anger in Chile After Boy Is Shown Falling From Bridge During Police Clashes

SANTIAGO — Security forces in Chile’s capital, Santiago, were accused of misconduct Friday after a video emerged showing a teenage boy falling from a bridge into a river during clashes with the police.

Video of the fall into the shallow river went viral in the country, which almost exactly a year ago was rocked by huge protests that left 31 dead along with thousands injured and jailed, and extensively damaged subway stations and buildings.

The country’s children’s ombudsman said on Twitter late on Friday that it was planning to file a complaint of “attempted homicide” over the video, which it said showed police officers throwing the teenager into the bed of the Mapocho river.

The teenager was admitted to a care center. Prosecutors say they plan to investigate the matter.

In a video the police released on Twitter on Saturday, Lieut. Col. Rodrigo Soto denied that officers had held the boy by his feet or that he had been propelled into the river by a police water cannon “as witnesses on social media have invented.”

“This unfortunate accident occurred in an intense context of arresting people who caused disorder,” he added.

Chile’s government said in a statement on Saturday that it had ordered an investigation into the matter and that the officer involved would be removed from his duties while the inquiry was carried out.

“The government rejects and condemns all types of violence, whatever its origin or motivation,” it added.

The episode occurred after roughly 100 people had gathered in an iconic square in central Santiago with various demands, leading to skirmishes with the police. But the protest was a far cry from the huge rallies of last year and early this year before the pandemic.

Analysts fear that the anniversary of the 2019 protests, set off last October by a rise in the price of public transport, will unleash a new wave of unrest, which has largely come to a halt in March due to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.

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