RIO DE JANEIRO — Eduardo de Jesus was on his doorstep in Complexo do Alemão, a vast maze here of cinder block homes, when his mother heard the loud blast of gunfire.
Seconds later, she saw Eduardo, 10, lying dead from a gunshot wound to the head, and she ran toward the police officer holding the gun.
“I grabbed him by the vest and yelled, ‘You killed my boy, you wretch,’ ” said his mother, Terezinha Maria de Jesus, 40.
“He told me, ‘Just as I killed your son, I can kill you, too,’ as he pointed his rifle at my head,” she continued. “I told him: ‘Go ahead. You just killed part of me. Take the rest.’ ”
The images of Eduardo’s lifeless body and the piercing screams of his neighbors denouncing the police, captured on cellphones and shared on social media around Brazil since the episode last month, offer a rare glimpse into the sense of despair in a society where killings by the police are so common that they dwarf the number in the United States.
At least 2,212 people were killed by the police in Brazil in 2013, according to the Brazilian Public Security Forum, an independent research group, and experts say the actual number is probably substantially higher because some states do not report killings by their police forces.