4 police investigated in woman’s death in Mexican resort

March 29, 2021 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Prosecutors said Sunday they are investigating four municipal police officers in the death of a woman in the Caribbean coast resort of Tulum.

The attorney general’s office in the coastal state of Quintana Roo did not identify the woman who died while being restrained Saturday evening.

But El Salvador’s Foreign Relations Ministry said the victim was a Salvadoran citizen, Victoria Esperanza Salazar. The ministry condemned her killing.

Social media users in Mexico posted videos showing a female officer appearing to kneel on the woman’s back while she was being arrested. The videos show the victim was unresponsive and handcuffed later, when several officers lifted her into a patrol truck.

The scenes were reminiscent of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. Floyd was declared dead after a white police officer pressed his knee against the Black man’s neck for about nine minutes, holding his position even after Floyd went limp.

Floyd’s death was captured on widely seen bystander video and sparked sometimes violent protests in Minneapolis and beyond, leading to a nationwide reckoning on race.

The office said four Tulum police officers — three men and one woman — were under investigation for their probable involvement in the Saturday evening incident. They said fingerprints and forensic evidence were being examined in the case.

“There will be no impunity for those who participated in the death of the victim, and all the force of the law will be brought to bear to bring those responsible to trial,” the office said in a statement.

The woman’s death seemed likely to ignite tensions in Quintana Roo, where police used live ammunition to ward off a throng of about 100 demonstrators in Cancun in November.

The protesters were demonstrating against the killings of women and some smashed windows and burned documents outside the city hall, while others tried to tear down a plywood barrier at an entrance.

Police fired into the air, but people were injured when protesters rushed to escape as the shots rang out. The state’s governor condemned the use of force and the state police chief was forced out.

Tulum has suffered growing pains from its rapid development, land disputes and gang activity that has begun to mar its reputation as a low-key, peaceful contrast to busier resorts like Cancun and Playa del Carmen.