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Police shoot lockdown violator dead in Manila

Shooting draws accusations of excessive force after dead man's family claims victim was a mentally-ill former soldier

Police shoot lockdown violator dead in Manila

Philippine police officers march in a parade in Manila. Police in the capital have been accused of using excessive force after a mentally-ill man was shot and killed at a checkpoint enforcing the Covid-19 lockdown on April 21. (Photo: Noel Celis/AFP) 

Published: April 23, 2020 07:40 AM GMT

Updated: April 24, 2020 12:57 AM GMT

Police in the Philippines have been accused of using excessive force for shooting dead a "mentally-ill" man in the capital Manila after he reportedly approached them at a Covid-19 lockdown checkpoint.

Winston Ragos, 34, died after being shot twice at the checkpoint in Manila's Quezon City district on April 21. The incident was captured on CCTV.

The police action comes 20-days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte controversially told police to shoot lockdown violators, if found to be causing trouble.

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The dead man's neighbors claimed he was an army veteran, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after having seen action during the five-month siege to defeat Islamic State-inspired Muslim militants who occupied the southern Philippine city of Marawi in 2017.

According to police, Ragos "approached ... and started shouting and uttering intimidating words" to a group of policemen at the checkpoint and refused to go home when ordered to.

Ragos identified himself as a former soldier and reportedly told police he would not follow their orders. He was also carrying a bag which police later claimed contained a .38 caliber handgun.

The video footage showed police shouting at Ragos to raise his arms in the air, but Ragos turned to face them while appearing to be reaching for something in his bag.

At this point, a policeman fired two shots at Ragos, who threw the bag at the police before falling to the ground.

He was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead, according to police, who later admitted Ragos had psychological issues, adding that the officer had felt threatened.

"We can say that what he [the officer) did was make a judgment call. But we will investigate the incident," Quezon City police chief Ronnie Montejo said.

Police immediately faced accusations from rights groups and the dead man's family of violating arrest protocols.

"They should have frisked him first, or at most shot him in his leg. He wasn't thinking right, and he was not armed," Ragos' mother told the media.

The country's human rights commission said it was investigating the incident.

"We stress since the start of the implementation of quarantines and lockdowns that law enforcers must always remain respectful of human rights, even in the face of a national health emergency," Commission on Human Rights spokeswoman Jacqueline Ann de Guia was quoted by the Manila Bulletin website as saying.

Meanwhile, the Our Lady of the Poor Parish in Pasig Diocese announced it would livestream catechism classes starting April 23.

"Since we have so much time on our hands. I thought, why not make our enhanced community quarantine [lockdown] more worthwhile?" parish priest Father Mark Emman Sese said.

As of April 22, the Philippines had recorded 6,710 Covid-19 cases with 446 deaths, according to government figures.

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