A mother calls for justice for the death of her son at the hands of two Cuban police officers

A mother calls for justice for the death of her son at the hands of two Cuban police officers

The Territorial Military Court of Havana acquitted the two police officers accused of killing the young Exduyn Yoel Urgellés Huete in the municipality of La Lisa on October 7. Milagros Huete, her mother, has remained silent all these months for fear of reprisals, but this Tuesday she confronted the officers in a interview with the independent medium CubaNet: “You killed my son!”.

According to Huete, the defense of second lieutenant Raunel Castillo Milanés and sergeant Eudys Jiménez Matos argued that “there was no excess in the performance of duty.” The young man’s mother thinks otherwise: both agents, she says, ignored the vital signs and the correct application of the so-called restraint technique, a maneuver designed to immobilize a detainee.

Her son and one of his friends, named Yunieski, who were engaged in the illegal sale of flavorings, witnessed how the Police carried out an operation to arrest a thief of gold chains in La Lisa, the woman now recounts. Upon arriving at the scene, they found a group of people who ran out of the place and, instinctively, Urgellés also started running, since two weeks before he had been fined 2,000 pesos for engaging in informal commerce.

Urgellés had a minor daughter and the sale of flavorings was the only means of subsistence she had been able to find, her mother says. “I get that it’s poorly done, but it was what he was working on,” she says.

Ignoring his story, says Huete, the police officers introduced his son into the patrol car upside down and had a conversation about the restraint technique.

Officer Castillo caught up with the young man and sprayed pepper spray into his eyes. “They put handcuffs on him, beat him, and throw him to the ground,” says Huete, who knows – from having consulted the trial documentation – that officer Jiménez joined the interrogation. They asked him about the theft of a chain, but Urgellés declared that he did not know anything about that matter and tried to explain the reason why he had launched himself into the race.

Ignoring his story, says Huete, the police officers introduced his son into the patrol car upside down and had a conversation about restraint technique. Asked about his partner, Jiménez replied that he did not know how to perform the technique and Milanés proceeded to show him how to apply it.

He introduced his left arm between Urgellés’s handcuffed arms and moved his head back and forth. After the “demonstration”, Jiménez tried to apply the technique under “the same conditions and without the need to use force”, because, they declared, the detainee remained “calm and communicative”.

Immediately afterwards, the patrol went to the Aleida Fernández polyclinic, in search of the victim of the theft of the chain that had motivated his presence at the place, presumably to take his statement, but the person had already been discharged. He left the car again towards the La Lisa Police unit.

Upon arriving at the station, one of the agents noticed that foam was emanating from Urgellés’s mouth. “Immediately” they took off his handcuffs, says the court document consulted by his mother, and they took him to the Cristóbal Labra polyclinic, two kilometers away and where “they arrived after a few minutes.”

Urgellés was admitted with a cardiorespiratory arrest, in a cyanotic state and without positive vital signs. Cardiac massage and resuscitation were applied to him for 30 minutes, but he was finally pronounced dead by “asphyxia”.

During the trial, in which Huete was present, the military prosecutor Gabriel Pérez Lázaro dismissed the arguments of the young man’s lawyer, Pedro Roberto Valdés.

During the trial, in which Huete was present, the military prosecutor Gabriel Pérez Lázaro dismissed the arguments of the young man’s lawyer, Pedro Roberto Valdés, and affirmed that neither of the two agents, nor the driver of the patrol in which he had been detained , “they had to be attentive” to something other than the actual “arrest” of Urgellés.

“The result of the trial was freedom for the two policemen,” said his mother, frustrated, who at that moment snapped at Castillo and Jiménez that they had murdered her son.

Exduyn Yoel Urgellés Huete used to work as a baker in La Lisa until, according to his mother, he was appointed baker. After falling asleep several times and burning the bread, he started having problems at work, which he eventually quit. Shortly after, unable to get a legal job, he and his friend Yunieski started selling flavorings, Huete says.

Urgellés’s widow, Yuraimy Galdo Pérez, assured CubaNet that the young man was “an excellent father”. “The girl, since dad lost his life, every month she gets sick,” she said, adding: “It’s another case that she gets away with it.”

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