Five people were killed in a police helicopter crash early Thursday in the central Mexican state of Aguascalientes, including the state’s security chief Porfirio Sanchez Mendoza.
Governor Teresa Jimenez Esquivel said the pilot, Olegario Andrade Zamorano, maneuvered to allow the aircraft to land in an empty lot, avoiding further casualties.
The other three onboard were Capt. Victor Manuel Valdez Sanchez and artillerymen Alejandro Serafin Guerrero and Juan Humberto Rincon Martinez.
Jimenez Esquivel confirmed that the crash was an accident but she said the state’s government reached out to the Ministry of National Defense to deploy federal forces.
Sanchez Mendoza leaves behind a controversial career with state police. In February, he was arrested by prosecutors following accusations of torture and abuse of authority.
The allegations stem from a 2016 appeal made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which accused the chief of police of torturing a victim during Mexico’s war on drugs — a period in which the government escalated military confrontations with organized crime groups.
The arrest of Sanchez Mendoza adds to recent prosecutions of associates of former security chief Genaro Garcia Luna during the administration of Felipe Calderon, who was the architect of the war on drugs. Garcia Luna is currently imprisoned in the US awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges.
A federal judge ruled Sept. 1 for the immediate release of Sanchez Mendoza after prosecutors did not provide sufficient evidence.