Police storm ex-officer’s house as ‘retribution’

On Wednesday morning residents of a sleepy German suburb awoke to the sound of explosions as elite police assaulted one of their neighbours' homes. The attack turned out to be a case of mistaken identity... or was it?

Police storm ex-officer's house as 'retribution'
A special police unit in Rhineland-Palatinate. Photo: DPA

The sound – made by flash grenades – was followed by a command over a loudspeaker: “Mr K., come out with your hands raised.”

According to a report by the Lippische Landes-Zeitung, a special police unit (SEK) then proceeded to storm a flat in the residential area of Horn-Bad Meinberg.

Tearing down the door with a battering ram and breaking several windows, officers reportedly threw the tenant to the ground and bound him with cable ties.

But shortly afterwards, a detective arrived at the scene and determined that this wasn't the Tim K. the SEK were searching for.

The police unit had got the wrong address.

At this awkward discovery, officers allegedly removed the ties, and left without comment or apology.

53-year-old Tim K., whose flat was stormed – and is a former SEK officer himself –  told LZ that he immediately threw himself onto the floor upon hearing the grenades and loudspeaker command, shouting: “I'm here.”

The SEK stormed K.'s home on the suspicion he was hoarding illegal weapons, and due to alleged links with biker gang 'Brothers MC,' said a Bielefeld police spokesperson.

The suspicions apparently came from a reliable witness source.

However, K. thinks the early-morning raid had something to do with the two books he has published about his time in the SEK.

“I've obviously put my foot in it,” he told LZ. “That's the only way I can explain this aggressive police operation.”

“Obviously, the officers didn't find any weapons on me, but they were deeply interested in my book notes. And they took photos of everything.”

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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.