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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Island police chief bristles at comparison with Uvalde, Texas shooting

Puerto Rico Police Bureau Commissioner Antonio López Figueroa

By John McPhaul

Puerto Rico Police Bureau Commissioner Antonio López Figueroa on Thursday described as “a lack of respect” a news report on the use of hollow-point bullets in the incident where a teenager died at the hands of the police.

“The report that came out today is disrespectful to the Puerto Rico Police when comparing [the bureau] to an individual who shot up a school in Uvalde,Texas,” López Figueroa said at a press conference. “We are not murderers, we are police. We are here to protect life and property.”

“And I have told my police officers, we are going to intervene with sensitivity, respect and empathy,” he added. “The person that you serve, think of him as a relative of yours. The only one who can talk about any situation that arises is the police and the citizen who is in the intervention.”

López Figueroa said hollow-point ammunition is allowed by the federal government and its use is legal.

“I ask, the individuals who kill innocent people every day, who kill people who are involved in drug trafficking, what types of ammunition do they use?” he pointed out. “The police use the type of ammunition regulated by the federal government and that is what is required of us.”

The so-called hollow-point bullet produces a greater lethal effect on the body that receives the impact. In the case of Javier Cordero Morales, the 16-year-old who was killed by the police on Aug. 1 after allegedly stealing a motor vehicle, the subject sustained at least 12 hollow-point bullet wounds in his body after he allegedly tried to run over the agents who were attempting to arrest him.

Regarding the proposal to remove administrative investigations when an event of excessive force occurs, López Figueroa stated that he will abide by the law that is approved.

López Figueroa said he hopes that as soon as possible, all police officers can have a body cam.

“I agree with body cams. Why? Because you the media have published many recordings of police officers where you [include] profanity, tarnish the reputation and integrity of the police officer, but only show a portion of the situation,” he said. “With the body cam, the entire scene will be shown, without editing. And that is the difference.”

The colonel said the Police Bureau is going to start the implementation of body cams with 150 agents from the Highway Patrol Bureau.

He said that although the equipment is not expensive, the cloud technology used to save the videos costs millions of dollars.

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