Cop faces charges for punching woman
German state prosecutors filed on Wednesday charges against a policeman who punched a woman in the face, breaking her nose and eye socket while she was at a Munich police station in January.
The 33-year-old policeman claimed he was acting in self-defence but admitted the 23-year-old woman was handcuffed at the time.
The woman called the police for help after a fight with her boyfriend got out of hand on Regerplatz in the Au district of Munich on January 20th. According to her lawyer Franz J. Erlmeier, the woman attempted to call her mother on the way to the station but was told by police that this was not allowed.
Reports differ about what happened on the way to the station. The police claim they restrained and handcuffed the woman after she hit and kicked them, refused to wear a seatbelt and called them "sons of whores."
Erlmeier, on the other hand, said "police took the woman's mobile phone away and pushed her to the floor of the police van, before handcuffing her," adding that “she panicked and could hardly breathe.”
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 with her hands still cuffed behind her back, according to the woman. She resisted and spat in the face of the unnamed 33-year-old officer, who later said he saw her head move as if she was about to head-butt him, and punched her in the face to protect himself.
The blow broke her nose and eye socket. Erlmeier says the policeman used excessive force.
Four days after the incident, an investigation, which lasted four months, was initiated by the state prosecutor, who after reviewing the reports, doubted 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.
If found guilty, the policeman could face up to five years in prison. If a sentence of six months or more is imposed, he could lose the right to hold public office. The woman is being investigated herself on suspicion of attempted assault, and insulting behaviour towards police officers.