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Munich officer broke woman's nose in cell
Woman's self-portrait in hospital shows extent of injuries. Photo: Private

Munich officer broke woman's nose in cell

Published: 09 Feb 2013 13:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Feb 2013 13:20 GMT+01:00

Munich police are being investigated for use of excessive force after an officer punched a handcuffed 23-year-old woman in the face while she was in police custody, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung over the weekend.

The unnamed woman, who left a police cell with a broken nose and a broken eye socket, had initially called the police for help after a fight with her boyfriend had got out of hand on Regerplatz in the Au district of Munich on January 20th, wrote the paper.

On arrival, officers told the woman and her boyfriend to accompany them to the police station. On the way the woman had attempted to phone her mother, but was told by police this was not allowed, the woman's lawyer Franz J. Erlmeier told the paper.

Police took the woman's mobile phone away and pushed her to the floor of the police van, before handcuffing her, said Erlmeier. “She panicked and could hardly breathe,” he told the paper.

At the police station, officers put her in a cell “to calm her down,” according to police press spokesman Reinhold Bergmann. Four officers then restrained her on a bench, her hands still cuffed behind her back. The woman resisted and spat in the face of one unnamed 33-year-old officer, who later said he saw her head move as if she was about to headbutt him.

So he punched her in the face - he claims just once - breaking her nose and eye socket, in what he says was "self defence," but Erlmeier says was use of “excessive force.”

Police then left the bleeding and handcuffed woman alone in the cell until a doctor arrived. She was later taken to hospital. Meanwhile the officers wrote up their reports and charged the woman with resisting the police, causing offence and bodily harm to a police officer (spitting at him), wrote the paper.

Five days later the state prosecutor launched an investigation into the matter after reviewing the reports and doubting the officer's claim that he had acted in self-defence.

The woman claims an officer filmed the whole incident on his mobile phone – evidence which could be key to the investigation - but the police deny any such video exists.

She said she saw one officer holding a lit-up device in his hand she believes was a smartphone, but which the police say was a torch needed to light the scene so the woman could be searched.

The state prosecutor said they have not seen any footage, but are taking the potential for any video evidence very seriously. “We can't rule out the possibility that there's a video,” senior prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch told the paper.

Erlmeier has dismissed police claims that the woman had been on drugs as an attempt to “cast her in a bad light. But the police can't make light of this massive bodily harm,” he told the paper.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:52 February 9, 2013 by raandy
starts off she wants to call her mother, she is not under arrest, only on the way to the station,phone confiscated and she is thrown to the floor.(not nice).

She is the vic, from a fight with boy friend but put in a cell to calm her down,,(that

will really calm her down)

At this point she now has been abused by the police , had her property taken and is incarcerated for calling the police for help.

She is angry, she has been humiliated and spits in the persons face as she is in hand cuffs without committing a crime.He punches her in the face breaks her nose and damages her eye all the time while she is still handcuffed.

This is massive Police brutality, this hopefully will go viral and should, for all those would be's that think German Police are passive in nature.

I hope she starts a legal fund raiser so I can donate.

She does not look ancestral German in the photo, if this is indeed her, wonder if racism played any role in this?

This sounds like a story from 1940 not 2013.
16:34 February 9, 2013 by catjones
Somewhat (though not much) surprised to learn the police station does not have 24/7 video.
16:41 February 9, 2013 by lucksi
Well, since police raided the homes of several journalists without a signed order from a judge to get at some evidence because someone of their own was hurt and the journalists might have taken photos; I fully expect the homes of the police oficers raided to get the phones.

Hahaha, that will never happen.

If video existed, it will have been deleted long ago.

And good luck. It's your word against seven officers. It could have been the word of 7 people against one officer and I could guess the outcome.
16:51 February 9, 2013 by zeddriver
One thing I have found over the years of hearing of such stories. When a person is told by the police during transit not to use the phone. Then don't use the bloody phone. I'm sure she could have called upon arrival at the police station. Even if one is wrongfully in handcuffs. That is probably not the time to react by spitting in the face of anyone. The time to act is AFTER the indecent has been resolved. Then you can hire a lawyer if you feel you have been wronged. The police may very well and probably did over react in telling her to not use the phone. But to become agitated over the denial of the phone only served to escalate the situation.
17:19 February 9, 2013 by Lisa Rusbridge
Printed in The Local earlier this week:

"The percentage of Germans who trust the police remained solid at 81 percent at the start of this year, compared with 85 percent 12 months ago. The judicial system came next with 65 percent of people expressing trust, and then public administration and the military followed, with 58 and 57 percent trust respectively.

The least trusted institutions were political parties on 16 percent, and corporations with 26 percent."

Looks like the cops will be dropping a few more percentage points,

Police, as a general rule, are high testosterone machines. They are prone to being power-hungry and violent, otherwise if they really wanted to spend their lives helping people they would have become social workers. There are always ways to de-escalate a situation rather than have it go the other way. These cops obviously aren't trained for these options. They reacted with a heavy-handed violent approach first by handcuffing and then punching in the face a woman who was not formally charged with any crime. Good job, boys.

I don't think The Local is known for long term follow-ups to their stories, but if they would happen to follow this case I do think the outcome will be interesting.
21:11 February 9, 2013 by raandy
zeddriver you must have dual citizen ship here, or your a german Incognito.
21:45 February 9, 2013 by wxman
Born too late and on the wrong police force. Should have been a member of the Geheime Staatspolizei.
23:08 February 9, 2013 by chicagolive
Don't know about you but everybody I know have not had any good experiences with German police. One had his ribs broken will in handcuffs in custody, they said he resisted when in reality the cop who did it was the ex-boyfriend of the girl he is dating. Also remember if you are foreign German police will not be so nice to you.
00:43 February 10, 2013 by zeddriver
@raandy

No dual citizenship here.

And I think the cop that hit her should go to jail after having been fired from his job.

My main point was that if one finds them selves in such a situation. I.E. When in a police van. Whether you deserve to be there or not. You should do as you are told. Then after everything has been resolved at the police station. Then the mistreated person can hire a lawyer.

Think of it this way.

If one is being robbed at gun point. It's probably not smart to call the gunmen an Arschloch nor spit in their face. Yes! the robber is in the wrong and is in fact an arschloch. But unfortunately at that moment in time the arschloch is in control. And how you react might mean the difference between dying or just losing your money. Simply put. There are good ways to react to a bad situation. And there are bad ways to react.
04:25 February 10, 2013 by katkla
J hope these officers are prosecuted! Jailed!
05:17 February 10, 2013 by wood artist
The (supposed) difference between mob rule and a formal justice system is that a suspect is entitled to some defined process, and is usually considered innocent until proven or judged guilty. In that line of thinking is also the idea that punishment, whatever it be, waits until a finding of guilty.

In this case, she was being transported, but apparently had not been charged with anything. A phone call to her mother seems like a reasonable thing, and if it actually wasn't allowed, it could only be because she had been taken into custody pending some specific charge. Again, based upon this story, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Equally it's hard to believe the officer had a legitimate fear when her hands are cuffed behind her back. Exactly what was she going to attack him with? A head butt? Should be pretty easy to dodge, and unlikely to cause serious injury.

In short, assuming this story is reasonably accurate, some officer(s) just left common sense outside the cell and beat the heck out of her...because they wanted to. Sad.

wa
09:50 February 10, 2013 by Englishted
If he did that much damage with one punch when he comes out of prison(I hope ) he could turn to boxing as a career.
10:49 February 10, 2013 by raandy
Zed, I agree,
06:40 February 11, 2013 by RainerL
It does not matter why an Officer punched her. Even if the Women deserved it. Officers have a duty of care > Period! That duty of care was breached the moment the Officer threw a Punch. In self defence as claimed is laughable. One deflects any strike by either raising an Arm Elbow or the likes in order to dampen any impact one one self by another person. Ones this has been achieved further contstraints can then be applied. To make matter worse and even more questionalbe is that this Officer is supposed to be trained in dealing with such situations.

It is also unacceptable to not have what should be considered mandatory Vieo evidence. Police in many Countries have such systems in place.

If Police had nothing to hide they would be more than happy and to make sure they had video eveidence. All sounds like a lame Duck fo an excuse by Police to me.
13:48 February 11, 2013 by Bigfoot76
I guess former Seattle Police officers are finding a new home and revived career in Germany.
12:45 February 14, 2013 by raandy
RainerL that is true, the reason for no video is for the turn keys not to be held liable at the Station. The problem in this case you really do not need the video to put this simple puzzle together. Totally abusive, sadist behavior by this jailer.

Remember she called the police for help from an abusive partner.The only thing she received was more abuse.

This person should initiate a lawsuit against this policeman and the department he represents for mega money.
18:05 February 15, 2013 by rmsbl4
OK people where in the story does it say the boyfriend was the abuser. She could have started the whole thing but then he started getting the better of it. Women are abusers of men also.

Did anybody notice that there was no mention of charges against her boyfriend.

Don't take everything for granted that the man is always at fault.
14:49 March 9, 2013 by RajeshG
this woman must really be a superwoman, that the police needed 7 of them, plus handcuffs plus a few punches to control her. I hear such stories in India, but to hear them in Germany is shocking. Even in India, they are changing rules, to have a lady cop in the team when dealing with females and to have 24 x 7 video footage in the police station. And this woman had no guns, was not a suicide bomber but merely an agitated person - so is the police not trained to handle normal civil cases of unrest? And in case she has to go to court, who pays for the lawyer's fees? Why is state not prosecuting the cops with her as a witness and not as a complainant? And then rest of the cops would gang up against her and her family, her job, business, typical of 3rd world macho cop's story from 1970s
22:28 March 10, 2013 by Vargaz
Hitting any person hands cuffed behind their back is an act of only one type of scumbag: a coward. This particular coward, a police officer uses the excuse of "self-defense" to break her nose and eye socket when her hands are behind her back. He should be dismissed from the force and forced to deal with his anger issues. There should be a legal complaint and damages, but all of that aside one thing is assured - that man is a pathetic excuse for a police officer.
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