The Attorney General’s office defended itself Wednesday for recommending a prison sentence for a police officer who shot two men who were attacking a teenager last year in Riobamba. Corporal Santiago Olmedo was sentenced to three years and four month in prison for actions he claims were in the line of duty.
In separate social media comments, President Guillermo Lasso and Interior Minister Alexandra Vela, head of the National Police, criticized the sentence.
The Attorney General’s office responded that it was not targeting an individual but focusing on the crime. “We salute the police institution and recognize its importance in guaranteeing the security and rights of all citizens. On the other hand, we are instructed by the law to consider rules of professionalism and conduct required of law enforcement personnel. In this case, the conviction was based on the officer’s overreach of his duties.”
According to prosecutors, the attackers of the teenager who were shot by Olmedo, sustained “life-changing” injuries and deserved justice for Olmedo as well as financial compensation.
In his comments of Twitter, Lasso said: “It is outrageous and incomprehensible that a police officer like Corporal Olmedo, who was protecting the life of a teenager, should be sentenced for doing his job. The police must have the guarantees to fulfill their duties without interference of vague, confusing laws regarding human rights. The government will provide the officer all the necessary support to maintain his freedom.”
Lasso added that the case supports his call for major criminal justice reform, which he says he will include in a 2023 referendum question.
In her comments, Vela said she would do “everything in my power” to protect Olmedo. “The police command supports the professional conduct of its officers, especially those who are fulfilling their duty under dangerous circumstance to guarantee citizen security and public order. We are asking prosecutors and the courts to review this case to assure that justice is done.”
Lawyers for Olmedo said they would appeal the conviction and welcomed the support of the president and interior minister.