Freelance reporter Quiroz died seven days
after being hospitalized for injuries suffered when he was arrested by police while
covering a protest, according to press reports.
Quiroz, 31, lapsed into a coma and died
of a heart attack in the María Reina Clinic in Sincelejo, according to news reports. He was a
part-time journalist for “Notisabanas,” a
nightly cable TV news program in Sincelejo, the capital of northern Sucre
department, and contributed to the El
Meridiano daily newspaper in
Montería, capital of neighboring Córdoba department.
Police detained Quiroz and impounded his
motorcycle while he was covering a protest on
November 20 in the town of San Pedro, according to Edgardo Ochoa, an editor and
producer at “Notisabanas.” Residents were demonstrating against a local natural
gas company in connection with its perceived reluctance to hire local workers.
Police told Quiroz he lacked proper insurance papers for his motorcycle, Ochoa
In an interview conducted the next day from his hospital bed, Quiroz told “Notisabanas” that officers put him
on a police truck. Then, he said, “a policeman grabbed me, beat me, and threw
me from the moving vehicle.” The interview was the last Quiroz gave before he
died, Ochoa said. The journalist, whose head appears battered and bloody in the
video, was vomiting blood during the interview, Ochoa told CPJ.
News accounts reported that Col.
Salvador Gutiérrez, chief of the Colombian National Police in Sucre department,
initially said that Quiroz had been detained after getting into a fight with a
police officer and that he had fallen off the
police truck. On November 30, National Police Inspector Gen. Santiago Parra
announced that three officers had been suspended while the case was being
investigated, according to news reports.
Quiroz said police told him he was
targeted because of his news coverage, according to Ochoa.
Ochoa told CPJ that Quiroz had upset local
authorities recently by reporting on the theft of cattle that were later found
on a farm owned by a former San Pedro politician. Ochoa said that Quiroz had
also reported on a case of police brutality in San Pedro. He said Quiroz had
received a death threat on his cellphone in October and had traveled from San
Pedro to Sucre to report the threat to the police and to the local office of
the Attorney General.
At Quiroz’ burial on November 29,
protesters clashed with police who used tear gas and water cannons to repel
them, according to news reports. Four police
officers and 50 civilians were injured, the reports said.