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German police officers on patrol. Photo: Mike Powell

German policeman who kneeled on suspect to be investigated

The Düsseldorf police are under fire after arresting a male suspect over the weekend. The background is a video published in social networks, which shows, among other things, an officer who kneels on a young male lying on the ground. He presses his knee on the neck of the man at one point.

Published: August 18, 2020, 10:18 am

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    The incident occurred on Saturday in Düsseldorf’s old town, the police said. They were called to a restaurant because of a group of rioters. There “a young person who was apparently uninvolved in what was actually happening disrupted the police intervention”. When the officers wanted to find out the young man’s details, he resisted and attacked the police. He was then arrested and taken to a police station.

    For reasons of neutrality, the Duisburg police, headed by the Düsseldorf public prosecutor, are investigating suspected bodily harm by an officer. A spokesman for the authority said on Monday when asked by Berlin weekly Junge Freiheit that the investigation was still in its infancy, which is why it is currently unknown why and how the young person attacked the police. Other questions about the course of events also still have to be clarified.

    Despite a lack of information, leftists were quick to blame the police. The political spokeswoman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Irene Mihalic, criticized the police. “It is absolutely right that this incident is being investigated,” Mihalic told the Rheinische Post on Monday.

    Mihalic came to this conclusion without knowing the exact circumstances and context. “What I cannot understand, however, is that after the events in the USA there is so little sensitivity and a policeman kneels on the head and neck of a person. He must know that it can be life-threatening.”

    The SPD in the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament has requested a so-called an emergency session for Thursday, announced the SPD state parliament members Sven Wolf and Hartmut Ganzke. They spoke of “disturbing scenes”.

    The interior expert of the Greens in the state parliament, Verena Schäffer, declared on Twitter: “The police operation in Düsseldorf must be cleared up. The fact that police officers kneel on the head/neck of a person who is already fixed on the ground cannot be proportionate.”

    The scenes in the video are evidently reminiscent of the edited scenes of the arrest of the black American George Floyd in late May. There, too, an officer had put his knee on the suspect’s neck. It was however established that Floyd died of a drug overdose and had asked to be put on the ground after the unedited footage of the arrest was leaked. The leaked body-cam images debunked the claims by BLM activists that a white officer had killed Floyd.

    In the 15-second long video from Düsseldorf, indignant passers-by can be heard denouncing the police in foreign accents suggesting that the suspect is also a migrant. One of them yells “Hey, that’s not funny brother” and “Take your knee off, brother.” Next to the policeman who is kneeling on the young man’s neck, another officer fixes an arm on his back. A third policeman secures the arrest. This video also only shows excerpts to discredit the officers, clearly with the intention to harm law enforcement.

    While police officers may be accused on social media, they almost never get the opportunity to present the facts in public. The high number of police officers injured when arresting suspects proves that they are dealing with violent and not harmless perpetrators. Since 2018, assaults on enforcement officers have been recorded in the German police crime statistics. From 2018 to 2019, the incidents recorded rose from 11 704 to 14 919.

    Some 19 civil servants are victims of an act of violence in Berlin every day, the spokesman for Berlin police, Thilo Cablitz, told news outlet rbb this year.

    The police union (GdP) says police officers are often insulted and threatened. The threshold of violence has fallen further, even if not all offenses result in physical injuries explained GdP spokesman Benjamin Jendro. Sections 114 and 115 of the German Criminal Code provide for sentences of up to five years in prison for threats and assaults against public officials while performing their duties.

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