Poe: Arnaiz’s death a case of ‘overkill’

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SENATOR Grace Poe on Tuesday said the killing of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz was “overkill,” after autopsy findings showed he was probably dragged, beaten and handcuffed before he was shot dead by Caloocan City police on Aug. 18.

Poe, vice chairman of the Senate committee on public order, said during the resumption of hearings on the government’s war on drugs that the responding police used excessive and lethal force in the Arnaiz case.

In separate testimony, Dr. Erwin Erfe of the Public Attorney’s Office and Chief Insp. Jocelyn Cruz of the Northern Police District crime laboratory, told the senators that Arnaiz suffered five gunshot wounds, had handcuff marks on his wrists, had contusions on both eyes, which were swollen, and had abrasions on his back, indicating he may have been dragged.

Erfe said Arnaiz was on his knees when shot, while Cruz said the boy was in a lying position facing up when he was killed, based on the trajectory of the gunshot wounds.

“Almost all of the gunshot wounds were going upwards which would indicate that possibly the assailant could be in standing position and victim Carl was in a lower position compared to the assailant,” Cruz said.

She also said that if Arnaiz had tried to fight back, he would have had difficulty doing so.

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“Based on the body of the victim, there were multiple gunshot wounds and there were other injuries noted. It means the victim wasn’t able to fight back easily,” Cruz said.

Crime Laboratory deputy director for administration Senior Supt. Ligaya Sim, meanwhile, said Arnaiz tested positive for gunpowder nitrates, indicating he had fired a gun.

The 19-year-old went out to buy a late night snack on Aug. 17 with his friend in Cainta, Rizal, but did not return for 10 days. He was found by his parents in a Caloocan City morgue on Aug. 28.

Police said the boy hailed a taxi in Navotas and declared a hold-up in Caloocan, a place that his parents said he had not visited. Police said Arnaiz opened fire against them, prompting them to fire back in a shootout at 3:30 a.m. of Aug. 18. They said he had packs of marijuana and shabu in his possession.

The policemen involved in the killing, Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita, have already been relieved from their posts pending an investigation into the incident.

The taxi driver, Tomas Bagcal, who said he was robbed, executed an affidavit on Aug. 18 that lacked important details, such as the plate number of his taxi, and he failed to identify the alleged robber who took his wallet. He later executed a supplemental affidavit on Aug. 29 that identified Arnaiz as the suspect in the purported robbery.

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Poe, noting some questionable details on both affidavits, said the taxi driver should be invited to the next hearing.

She also moved to invite the parents of Arnaiz, who have been provisionally accepted into the Justice Department’s Witness Protection Program.

At the hearing, PO2 Rodolfo Bautista, the chief investigator of Caloocan City Police Station, admitted that he failed to indicate the plate number and name of the taxi allegedly that Arnaiz allegedly robbed.

“That was my fault,” Bautista said in Filipino. “We asked PO1 [Jeffrey] Perez to contact the taxi driver, who came back.”

He said the driver’s license, plate number and address were on file.

At the same hearing, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said they knew nothing about the whereabouts of Arnaiz’s companion, 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, who has been missing three weeks.

The hearing was part of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs’ investigation into the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos who, like Arnaiz, was shot dead after allegedly engaging policemen in a shootout.

In Delos Santos’ case, the police account was contradicted by CCTV footage, eyewitnesses and autopsy results that showed he had not fired a weapon before he was gunned down.

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Also on Tuesday, Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said Carl’s parents Carlito and Eva Arnaiz, were provisionally covered by the WPP on orders of Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

On Monday, Aguirre ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel probe into Arnaiz’s death.

Accompanied by PAO chief Persida Acosta, the victim’s parents had gone to the Justice Department to seek assistance for the immediate investigation of their son’s killing.

Acosta said they are still gathering more evidence before filing a case against the policemen involved in the operation.

She said initial investigation and forensic analysis contradicted the claim of policemen that Arnaiz was killed in a shootout because there were signs he was tortured and dragged.

She said they are preparing the filing of murder charges against the two policemen before the DOJ.

Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public of an impartial probe into Carl’s death.

“We assure the public that there will be no whitewash and there will be a thorough investigation and will be made accountable before our laws,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

United States Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim called on all relevant authorities to investigate the killing of Arnaiz and to punish those involved once proved that they committed wrongdoing.

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