A senior Philippine police officer was relieved of his command yesterday and two others disarmed after the fatal shooting of three alleged car thieves who had apparently already been subdued by police.
Senior Superintendent Elmo San Diego, who is heading an investigation into the shooting, told a press conference that Inspector Angelo Nicolas “had been relieved” of his command.
Nicolas was head of the Quezon City police district’s anti-car theft unit and led a police team that shot three alleged car thieves with automatic weapons on a busy street in Manila on Tuesday night.
The other two policemen also involved in the shooting have been disarmed and they have been confined to office duties, San Diego said.
The shooting was filmed by a local television crew who were in the area at the time.
The incident has outraged human rights activists and the independent Commission on Human Rights has already launched an investigation.
The video, shot by an ABS-CBN television crew, shows policemen in plain clothes armed with assault rifles firing at the suspects at point blank range.
Police claimed there was a car chase and a firefight, and that those killed were members of a notorious gang of thieves, local media reported.
The video footage showed the vehicle, which had already stopped, with two suspects inside and another sprawled on the ground next to the vehicle.
All of them appeared to be motionless.
Policemen could then be seen running toward the vehicle and firing straight at the three alleged car thieves.
It was not clear whether they were already dead.
San Diego said initial findings into the shooting had shown “glaring violations” of police operational procedures.
These violations included excessive firing of weapons and not wearing proper uniforms, San Diego said.
San Diego said that the initial findings would have to be backed by evidence and witness testimonies before a formal inquiry could ber ordered.