Witness refutes police claim on scuffle that led to killing of teen with special needs, says city mayor

Witness refutes police claim on scuffle that led to killing of teen with special needs, says city mayor
Photo shows the family of Edwin Arnigo meeting with NBI investigators and Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian.
Valenzuela City PIO / release

MANILA, Philippines — A key witness in the shooting of an 18-year-old with special needs has refuted police claim that a scuffle ensued in the raid that led to the killing of Edwin Anigo, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said Thursday.

In a series of tweets, Gatchalian said a witness, who was also apprehended by the same police suspect in the case, has come forward to the National Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting a probe into the incident.

“He was in close proximity literally less than an arms length away from the victim when it happened. In short, he said there was no scuffle between the victim and the policeman. No agawan ng baril,” he said.

The city mayor also said the witness belied police claim that the shooting happened on the “tupada” site but a few meters away.

“He is very adamant in saying that though he saw is different from the account of the policemen involve[d]. He knows it was accidental because he saw the reaction of the officer after the shooting,” he added.

To recall, Anigo, diagnosed with intellectual disability as a comorbidity to his autism spectrum disorder, was shot dead when police raided a tupada or illegal cockfighting game in Valenzuela City on Sunday.

Gatchalian confirmed that the bullet came from a police officer's weapon, but asserted it was still unclear if the weapon had misfired or the boy was caught in the crossfire. 

Initial police accounts said that the boy lunged for the police officer's weapon and attempted to take his service weapon. It is not clear how the encounter started from the police perspective, but police said that a scuffle ensued. The 18-year-old was shot in the process. 

Arnigo's family asserts that the teenager could not have lunged for the gun, as he had autism and was afraid of police officers. 

The NBI has been tapped to conduct a separate probe into the incident, following the request of the victim’s family. The PNP meanwhile has vowed to cooperate with the bureau.

 One officer involved in the case has been placed under restrictive custody while three others were relieved and transferred to district headquarters. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Franco Luna

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