MEXICO CITY (AP) — Outrage grew in Mexico and El Salvador as Mexican authorities said Monday that an autopsy of a Salvadoran woman who died in police custody confirmed that police broke her neck. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador flatly said that Victoria Esperanza Salazar was murdered by police in the Caribbean resort of Tulum.
Victoria Esperanza Salazar let out a scream Saturday afternoon as a female police officer knelt on her back to cuff her hands behind her. Salazar was face down on the street and barefoot. Her feet flailed. A couple people passed slowly by on a bicycle. There were food stands a few yards away. Clips of video cobbled together give no sense of how much time elapsed. Then three other officers are seen standing around her motionless body still facedown, chatting casually. Later, three officers lift her still handcuffed body into the back of a police pickup truck and drive away.
Video circulating on social media does not show events before Salazar was face down on the street with the officer on top of her. An autopsy concluded that Salazar died from a broken neck. The examination found, “a fracture of part of the upper spinal column produced by the rupture of the first and second vertebra which caused the loss of the victim,” Quintana Roo State Prosecutor Oscar Montes de Oca said in a video. The injuries were “compatible y coincide with submission maneuvers applied to the victim during her detention” and demonstrate a “disproportionate” use of force. He said his office was preparing femicide charges against the four police officers.
Salazar had been living in Mexico for some years on a “humanitarian visa,” El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said. “She was brutally murdered by Tulum police officers in Quintana Roo, Mexico,” the president wrote. He said the government would support Salazar’s two daughters. “I see thousands of outraged Mexicans, demanding justice for our compatriot,” Bukele said. “They are as outraged as we are. Let us not forget that it was not the Mexican people who committed this crime, but rather some criminals in the Tulum police.” López Obrador swore Monday that those responsible would be punished.“She was brutally treated and murdered,” López Obrador said. “It is an event that fills us with pain and shame.”