Brazilian photographers shot covering police action

Two Brazilian photographers were shot while covering a February 23, 2017, confrontation between police and civilians in a region of São Paulo notorious for its high concentration of drug sales and use, according to the photographers and the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI).

“Photojournalists Carlos Gildário Lima de Oliveira and Marcelo Carneiro da Silva were hit by bullets this Thursday [Feb 23, 2017] during the Nova Luz Operation carried out by military police in the center of São Paulo,” ABRAJI said in a statement.

Oliveira was hit in the leg and spent a day in hospital but da Silva was saved from serious injury because the bullet hit the mobile phone in the pocket of his jeans, the two men said in separate Facebook posts.

“I went to shoot a scene involving a lieutenant and some addicts,” Oliveira, who is now recovering safely at home, told the Committee to Protect Journalists by phone. “When it ended, I went to photograph the addicts and I felt the impact in my leg.”

“The bullet entered just below my buttocks and came out the front of the thigh. It’s impossible to know where the bullet came from.”

Police said they did not fire live ammunition to disperse a protest that involved some 300 people throwing stones and other objects at them.

“An investigation is under way to identify those responsible for the shots,” police said in a statement sent to CPJ.

Oliveira, 46, told CPJ he works as a freelancer for the Anadolu, Zuma and AE news agencies. Da Silva is represented by the Frame Photo agency.

The incident occurred in Cracolândia, a neighborhood in central São Paulo that gets its name from the large number of drug addicts who congregate or live on the streets there.

Reports said the arrest of two men provoked a response from civilians in the area, who threatened nearby firefighters. Officers called for reinforcements and the confrontation escalated.

Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and percussion grenades to disperse the crowds, and at least five officers were hurt, according to press reports. The number of civilians who were hurt is unknown.