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Probe launched into filmed police attack

Authorities are investigating violent tactics used by Berlin police to subdue a man on Saturday. After shooting him in the leg, officers used pepper spray, kicked him in the head, and set a dog on him. The incident was caught on film.

Probe launched into filmed police attack
Photo: YouTube

The apparently deranged André C. was seen walking through the streets of the city’s Wedding district holding two knives and carrying an axe in his waistband on Saturday afternoon. A police car arrived and two officers jumped out of the car holding firearms. The situation escalated when the 50-year-old moved to attack the officers after they called on him to drop his weapons.

Eyewitnesses said a female officer fired at least five warning shots into the air, and then shot at the man, hitting him once in the calf and grazing his stomach twice. Reinforcements were called because the man still clung to one of his knives.

A video filmed by a passer-by and released on the Bild website shows five officers then surrounding the man sitting on the ground. They can be seen spraying him twice with pepper spray, hitting him on the arm with a baton, and kicking him in the back of the neck. One officer then appears to let a police dog bite him in the head.

André C. sustained severe injuries while he was being overpowered and later underwent emergency surgery. He was reported to be out of danger on Monday.

Several eyewitnesses gave a damning account of the police’s actions. “The policewoman looked totally frantic,” one local resident told the B.Z. newspaper. “She just kept screaming ‘drop the knife, drop the knife.’ ”

“The officers looked scared,” eyewitness Yessin B. said, while another told Bild newspaper, “The man looked defenceless, the police response seemed brutal.”

State criminal investigators have launched a routine investigation to determine whether the police’s violence was appropriate, while police unions were quick to defend the officers.

“Anyone who calls that brutal, I’d like to watch them wet themselves if they were in that situation,” said Bodo Pfalzgraf, head of the Berlin branch of police union DPolG. His counterpart Michael Purper of the GdP union added, “If the police shouts warnings, and even fires warning shots and the man still won’t drop the weapon, then resorting to violence is allowed.”

Berlin politicians also gave cautious support for the police. “After the warning shots, the man knew what he was letting himself in for,” said Christoph Lauer, security policy spokesman for the Berlin Pirate Party, who intends to raise the incident at a parliamentary committee meeting. “The video does not show what happened before and afterwards.”

But André C.’s nephew Martin K. said the police’s response was much too tough. “My uncle was already lying on the ground seriously injured,” he told B.Z., adding that he couldn’t explain his relative’s deranged behaviour.

The paper reported that André C. had got into an argument with “a group of Asians” that afternoon, had gone home to get something and was then stopped by the police.

“My uncle is usually a really nice guy who wouldn’t do anything to anyone,” said 23-year-old Martin K. “He just drinks a bit too much. His son died 10 years ago in an accident in Thailand, and his father died six weeks ago. He hasn’t really got over it yet.”

André C. has no previous convictions, though he has come to the police’s attention for misdemeanours including verbal abuse in the past three years.

The Local/bk

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TRAVEL NEWS

What we know so far about Berlin’s follow-up to the €9 ticket

After weeks of debate, Berlin has settled on a new budget ticket to replace the €9 ticket for a limited time. Here's what know about the travel deal so far.

What we know so far about Berlin's follow-up to the €9 ticket

So Berlin’s getting a new €9 ticket? Cool!

Kind of. Last Thursday, the Berlin Senate agreed to implement a €29 monthly ticket from October 1st until December 31st this year. 

It’s designed to bridge the gap between the end of the €9 ticket deal and the introduction of a new national transport deal that’s due to come into force by January 2023.

The Senate still hasn’t fleshed out the details in a written decision yet, so some aspects of the ticket aren’t clear, but we do know a few things about how it’ll work. For €29 a month, people can get unlimited travel on all modes of public transport in Berlin transport zones A and B. That means buses, trains and trams are all covered – but things like taxis aren’t. 

Wait – just zones A and B. Why’s that?

One of the sticking points in planning the new ticket was the fact that neighbouring state Brandenburg was reluctant to support the idea. Franziska Giffey (SPD), the governing mayor of Berlin, had annoyed her neighbours and surprised her own coalition partners by suddenly pitching the idea at the end of August – shortly before the €9 ticket was due to expire.

At the time, the disgruntled Brandenburg state premier Dietmar Woidke (SPD) complained about the lack of advance notice for a proper debate. He had previously ruled out a successor to the €9 ticket in the state. Meanwhile, the CDU – who are part of the governing coalition in Brandenburg – slammed the idea for a new cheap ticket as a “waste of money” and an attempt to “buy votes” for the SPD.

The blockade meant that plans for a Berlin-Brandenburg ticket run by transport operator VBB had to be scrapped, and the monthly ticket has instead been restricted to the two transport zones solely operated by Berlin’s BVG. Since zone C stretches into Brandenburg, Berlin couldn’t include this zone in the ticket unilaterally. 

Berlin transport zones explained

Source: S-Bahn Berlin

The good news is that zones A and B cover everything within the city’s borders, taking you as far as Spandau in the west and Grunau in the southeast. So unless you plan regular trips out to the Brandenburg, you should be fine.

However, keep in mind that the Berlin-Brandenburg BER airport is in zone C, so you’ll need an ‘add-on’ ticket to travel to and from there. It’s also not great for the many people who live in Potsdam in Brandenburg and commute into Berlin regularly. 

READ ALSO: Berlin gets green light to launch €29 transport ticket

How can people get hold of it? 

Unlike the €9 ticket, you won’t be able to buy it at stations on a monthly basis. Instead, the €29 ticket is only for people who take out a monthly ‘Abo’ (subscription) for zones A and B. If you’ve already got a monthly subscription, the lower price will be deducted automatically, while yearly Abo-holders will likely get a refund. 

You can take out a monthly subscription on the BVG website here – though, at the time of writing, the price of the ticket hadn’t been updated yet. According to Giffey, people will be able to terminate their subscription at the end of December without facing a penalty. 

What types of ‘Abos’ are eligible for the deal? 

According to Berlin transport operator BVG, people with the following subscriptions are set to benefit from the reduced price from October to December: 

  • VBB-Umweltkarten with monthly and annual direct debit
  • 10 o’clock tickets with monthly and yearly direct debit
  • VBB-Firmentickets with monthly and yearly direct debit 
  • Trainee subscriptions with monthly direct debit

People who already have reduced-price subscriptions, such as over-65s and benefits claimants, aren’t set to see any further reductions. That’s because many of these subscriptions already work out at under €29 per month for zones A and B. 

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train in Berlin

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train at Zoologischer Garten. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Can students with a Semesterticket get it as well?

That’s one of the things that still needs to be clarified. It’s possible that universities will choose to refund part of the Semesterticket price like they did with the €9 ticket. The Local has contacted BVG for more information. 

Can I take my bike/dog/significant other along for the ride? 

Once again, this doesn’t appear to have been ironed out yet – but we can assume that the usual rules of your monthly or yearly subscription will apply. So, as with the €9 ticket, if your bike is included in your subscription, you can continue to take it with you. If not, you’ll probably have to pay for a bike ticket.

In most cases, monthly BVG subscriptions allow you to take one dog with you for free, and also bring one adult and up to three children (under 14) with you on the train on evenings and weekends. These rules are likely to stay the same, but we’ll update you as soon as we know more. 

How much is this all going to cost?

According to regional radio station RBB24, around €105 million is set to be put aside in order to subsidise the temporary ticket. However, this still needs to be formalised in a supplementary budget and given the green light in the Senate. 

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

OK. And what happens after the €29 ticket?

That’s the million – or, rather, billion – euro question right now. In its latest package of inflation relief measures, the federal government said it would be making €1.5 billion available for a follow-up to the €9 ticket.

The ticket is set to be introduced by January 2023 and will rely on Germany’s 16 states matching or exceeding the federal government’s €1.5 billion cash injection. So far, it looks set to be a monthly ticket that can be used on public transport nationally, with the price set somewhere between €49 and €69.

However, the Greens continue to push for a two-tier model that would give passengers the option of buying either a regional or national ticket. Under their proposals, the regional tickets would cost €29 and the national tickets would cost €69.

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