Excessive force by police linked to 11 deaths in 2020

Deaths in police custody on the rise in Yucatán. Photo: File

Police forces across Yucatán are facing public anger for alleged uses of excessive force. 

Several groups have called upon the state government to form a special commission to investigate cases of police brutality. According to Yucatan’s Human Rights Commission, 11 individuals lost their lives under police custody in 2020.

Yucatan’s Commission on Human Rights and several other organizations have called upon authorities to end the “epidemic of police brutality and torture.”

State authorities have pressed charges against four police officers in Tecoh, who allegedly asphyxiated a 27-year-old man under their custody. Witnesses reported that José Luis Cauich Yérvez was beaten by officers and loaded into the back of a flatbed police truck.

Cauich Yérvez died by the time the vehicle arrived at the police station. Upon receiving the body, angry family members demanded answers and alleged that the victim’s body showed evidence of physical abuse. 

In a court hearing, Presiding Judge José Enrique Sáenz Dzul allowed the defense team four months to prepare their case. Due to the nature of the alleged crime, no bail was set.

Human rights activist Martha Capetillo Pasos expressed indignation over the events and claimed that it is not rare for detainees to suffer bodily harm at the hands of police.

“Torture can’t be normalized or tolerated. Whenever possible, the authorities will always defend the actions of their officers,” Capetillo Pasos said in an interview with Diario de Yucatán.

In a similar case, Osmar López Manzanilla, 31, was arrested for alleged possession of narcotics at a checkpoint on the  Chicxulub-Telchac road. According to medical examiners, López Mansanilla died of asphyxia en route to the police station. 

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.