The video of a policeman performing an exorcism on a drunk man in Brazil has gone viral.

Lieutenant Ricardo Mendes, 36, was called to stop Rodrigo Betti, 28, from abusing people on the streets.

Much of the surprise of passers-by Mendes, helped by a colleague, grabbed the man's head and performed an exorcism ritual, the Mirror reported.

According to a witness who recorded the ritual on his phone, Betti was behaving in a "strange way".

He then explained that the officer shouted: "Unleash his body, Jesus. Out in the name of Jesus", at which point the man fell on the ground and started shouting.

"It really looked as if he was possessed," the witness said. "Someone behind me then said he was going to get a priest."

A police spokesman confirmed the incident and claimed that Mendes had performed a "real" exorcism.

According to Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of Born Again in Brazil - a book exploring the Pentecostal boom in the southern american country - the man in the video "displays the classic signs of demonic possession".

Speaking to IBTimes UK, Chesnut said: "He is screaming obscenities, writhing his body with seemingly superhuman strength.

"The cop, who also appears to be Afro-Brazilian, immediately launches into a Pentecostal style exorcism, performed by thousands of pastors each day throughout Brazil."

Chesnut, who has been studying Pentecostalism in Brazil for 20 years, said he had never seen a scene "that so dramatically captures the 'Pentecostlisation' of Brazilian Christianity and society" as this impromptu exorcism performed by a cop on an Afro-Brazilian man.

"After four decades of meteoric growth, Brazil is now home to the largest Pentecostal population on earth, even larger than that of the US, " Chestnut said.

"This dynamic type of Protestantism is particularly strong in Brazil and other Latin American nations in urban barrios plagued by crime and violence. Many Brazilians and Latin Americans adhere to Pentecostalism as a form of divine protection in nations that are ravaged by the highest murder rates on earth, such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which along with Brazil have some of the largest Pentecostal popuations in Latin America."

"Since the emergence of the controversial Brazilian Pentecostal Church - the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, headed by billionaire bishop Edir Macedo - exorcism is booming among both Catholics and Pentecostals in Brazil and throughout the global south.

"It is even practised by Catholic lay women who aren't supposed to be performing them, since in the Catholic church only priests with consent from their bishops can perform them. This video truly captures an extraordinary moment in which Pentecostal exorcism has become so commonplace that some cops use it as part of their arsenal in combating surging urban crime."