Tupada raid turns bloody: Teen with autism killed in 'gun scuffle' with police

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2021 06:30 PM

Police, family give conflicting accounts of how the shooting happened, according to Valenzuela mayor

MANILA — An 18-year old man with autism was killed in what police alleged was a "gun scuffle" in an illegal cockfighting site in Valenzuela City on Sunday, but the family of the victim was disputing the story. 

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar in a press release Monday said Erwin Arnigo was shot dead when he "grabbed the service firearm of one of the policemen" that led to a "scuffle." They claimed Arnigo was arrested inside a tupada site. 

But Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian who talked to the Arnigos said the family was disputing the police's version of how the incident happened.

"Yung parents has a different version, which is a theory they want investigated. Sabi kasi nila, si Edwin takot sa pulis because he has autism," Gatchalian told a press conference Monday. 

Gatchalian was told by the family how their day went about lunchtime before Edwin was shot.

"After lunch daw, magkakasama sila sa bahay. Si Edwin daw asked na bibili ng ice candy sa tapat ng bahay. Bumalik, eating ice candy. But the mom went to the toilet or did something for like 5 minutes. Pagbalik n'ya, wala na sa bench na inuupuan nila si Edwin," the mayor said. 

(After lunch, Edwin asked permission to buy ice candy in front of their house. The mom did something for 5 minutes and Edwin was left unattended. When she came back, Edwin was gone.)

"Paglabas nila, narinig na lang na may commotion na," Gatchalian added. 

(Later, they just heard a commotion outside.)

Gatchalian noted that Arnigo's house was just a few blocks away from the tupada site that the police raided.

The Arnigo family said they want the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to step in and do the probe because they have an "eye witness" that the police shot Edwin.

"The family alleges that the police shot... Ang theory nila, yung anak nila, nasa may Homeowners' office, not in the tupada site. Nung nag-raid, nagkalat ang tao. Nung naghabol ang pulis, ang nadatnan nila si Edwin. Tapos, they have an eyewitness na ni-bearhug si Edwin ng pulis, tapos binaril," Gatchalian said, citing the family's account. 

(The family said Edwin was just in the homeowners' office. But when the people in the tupada site dispersed, the police found Edwin along the way. An eyewitness of the family said Edwin was bearhugged by a cop and was shot.)

Edwin's body was allegedly dragged in the tupada site to make it appear that a scuffle took place, the family told Gatchalian. 

"A couple of meters away from the tupada site, doon daw maraming pool of blood... Kaya walang shirt," Gatchalian said.

(The pool of blood was a few meters away from the tupada site. They dragged his body that's why he lost his shirt.)

Gatchalian said 4 cops involved in the bloody tupada raid were put in restrictive custody. He identified them as: 

  • Police Master Sgt. Christopher Salcedo 
  • Police Cpl. Kenneth Pacheco 
  • Police Cpl. Rodel Villar 
  • Police Cpl. Rex Paredes

Gatchalian said he would ask the NBI to conduct a separate investigation as requested by the Arnigo family.

Eleazar said that aside from the death of Arnigo, the police operation also resulted in the arrest of two other suspects and the confiscation of some items including fighting cocks and bet money amounting to P1,340, as reported to him by the chief of the Northern Police District.

Arnigo was brought to the Valenzuela Medical Center where he was declared dead, said Eleazar.

"I have directed the Internal Affairs Service to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, specifically aimed at determining if there were lapses in the conduct of the operation. Part of my instruction is to finish the investigation at the soonest possible time," the police chief said.

He asked "all persons who witnessed the incident to help us shed light on what happened so that we can quickly and impartially resolve this case."

"I would like to assure our kababayan of a quick and impartial conduct of investigation regarding this incident," Eleazar said.