Cop kills 18-year-old with special needs in Valenzuela – victim's family

A policeman shot dead an 18-year-old with special needs in Valenzuela City on Sunday, May 23, the victim's family said.

Quoting the family of Edwin Arnigo, the Valenzuela City government said the 18-year-old was killed by a gunshot after policeman arrested him for alleged illegal cockfighting in Barangay Lingunan. His family said he had autism. 

According to the Philippine National Police’s latest report on the incident, Arnigo allegedly took the gun of one of the policemen, reportedly leading to a scuffle, which then led to the firing of the gun that killed him. 

The PNP said Arnigo was rushed to the Valenzuela City Medical Center but he was later declared dead. 

According to the PNP, the suspect was part of a team conducting an operation against illegal cockfighting, which resulted in the arrest of three people, including the victim. Several items, including fighting cocks and bet money amounting to P1,340, were also confiscated. 

When asked for the official report, the investigation department of the Valenzuela City police said they were not allowed to disclose the report without the approval of the city police chief. Rappler tried to reach the chief but he has yet to respond to our request.

Conflicting narratives

In a press conference on Monday, May 24, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the victim’s family and the police had conflicting statements on the incident. 

According to the victim’s family, Arnigo asked her mother if he could buy “ice candy” in a store just in front of their house. After that, her mother went to the toilet, and in a matter of minutes, she heard that her son was shot.

The family added that Arnigo could not have taken the gun because he had autism and was afraid of cops. They added that they have eyewitnesses who said that Arnigo was shot in a different location and was just dragged to the location of the cockfighting area. 

According to the police’s narrative, Arnigo was arrested for illegal gambling and later on got involved in a scuffle. 

Gatchalian said the suspect, including the three cops involved in the operation, had been disarmed and placed in restrictive custody. The mayor added that the family requested them to tap the National Bureau of Investigation as the third party investigator to ensure an impartial probe. 

PNP chief General Guillermo Eleazar, meanwhile, said he had ordered the Internal Affairs Service to investigate the incident, which can be considered as one of the first controversies of involving the police under his watch.

Senator Win Gatchalian called for a swift and impartial probe into Arnigo's death.

"Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang sinapit ni Edwin at kailangan nating tiyakin na matapos ang mga imbestigasyon, mananagot ang mga dapat managot, at maiiwasan na natin ang mga ganitong uri ng insidente," said the senator in a statement on Tuesday, May 25.

(What happened to Edwin is unacceptable and we must ensure that once the investigation is over, those responsible for his death would be held accountable and a similar incident would be avoided in the future.) – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com