Two Brazilian police officers are in critical condition after after a gunfight erupted when one of the officers mistook the other for a robber.
Olivio Gabriel Torres, who works as a criminal investigator, was mistaken by military police officer Edilson Barreto de Silva, who patrols the streets in Fortaleza, Brazil, reports the Daily Mail. Torres spotted Silva in a pharmacy and thought he was trying to rob the place. Neither man was in uniform.
According to witnesses, Torres was walking past the store and saw Silva and thought he was acting suspiciously.
Torres then pulled his gun and ordered a shocked Silva to lift up his shirt. Instead, Silva tried to wrench the gun away from Torres, and the two tussled, with bullets flying everywhere. Torres was hit in the face, while Silva was struck in the abdomen and thigh.
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"Even though the man was shouting that he is a military police, the civilian police officer kept shooting and held the other man down on the ground," said a witness who declined to be identified. "I was standing nearby and I couldn't understand why this had happened. It was terrifying."
According to investigator, Inspector Romerio Almeida, one of the officers was inside the pharmacy buying medicines when the other came in. He said: "Military police officer Silva was in civilian clothes, but with the gun in his waistband. Civil police officer Torres, who was also in plain clothes found his actions suspicious and thought he was trying to rob the shop. It appears to have been a regrettable misunderstanding as they both exchanged gunfire which resulted in severe injuries."
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Both men were taken to a local hospital where they had emergency surgeries. The Department of Public Safety and Defense is currently investigating the incident.
According to Amnesty International, there has been a recent surge in killings by police in Brazil, likely attributed to Rio’s hosting of the 2016 Olympics and the crackdown on crime in the area.