Juan Rojas, and Fernando Espinosa, and Camilo Rojas
Juan Rojas, 35, and Fernando Espinosa, 35, both journalists, were covering a sit-in protest in Sibaté, Cundinamarca state, on May 6, a fellow journalist who was present said. As ESMAD agents approached, the three shouted that they were members of the press. But an ESMAD agent opened fire from no more than two meters away with a riot gun; Human Rights Watch corroborated a video showing the agent firing the weapon at them. The projectiles struck Espinosa in the chest, and Rojas in the left thigh, leaving bruises. Human Rights Watch reviewed photos of the bruises, which the IFEG forensic experts said are consistent with injuries caused by kinetic impact projectiles.
Nicolás Saavedra, 23, left work early on April 28 to participate in protests at Plaza de Bolívar, in Bogotá. He was watching performers, and the crowd was peaceful, when ESMAD agents burst into the square firing teargas, stun grenades and kinetic impact projectiles, he said. Saavedra heard an explosion close-by and felt searing pain. Shock kept him from running, as the people around him scattered. A childhood friend realized Saavedra’s right eye was bleeding profusely and took him to the hospital. A medical report Human Rights Watch reviewed noted multiple wounds not only to the right eye but to the hands, back, and right arm. Saavedra has lost all vision in his right eye.
Emmanuel Lovato (pseudonym), 22, a student, who like some others are identified by pseudonyms in this document for their protection, has less than half of the vision remaining in his right eye, after being hit by what he believes were kinetic impact projectiles. The demonstration at Parque Olaya, in the city of Pereira, Risaralda state, on May 2, had been peaceful, he said, until ESMAD agents arrived. Lovato saw the motorcycle agent who fired at his face from about 20 meters away, he said. Kinetic impact projectiles hit him below his right eye and impacted his right arm. The blow to the area of his eye caused the lower eyeball to burst, medical documents reviewed by Human Rights Watch said. Specialists are uncertain whether Lovato will regain some of his lost vision; he is avoiding sudden movement to prevent a total detachment of the retina, which they told him can result in permanent blindness.
Luis Miguel Gómez (pseudonym), 25, was returning home after a sit-in in Cali, on May 1, when ESMAD and regular police agents, in a pincer movement, rounded him up with other protesters. They fired stun grenades and kinetic impact projectiles as they advanced, Gómez said. One of Gómez’s friends fell, and an ESMAD agent kicked him. As Gómez implored the agent to stop, a regular police officer approached and, from about two meters away, without giving any notice or command, shot his left wrist, Gómez said. A doctors’ report that Human Rights Watch reviewed said that a “rubber bullet” had broken Gomez’s radial bone and severed his tendon at the wrist, as well as injuring a finger.