Patrik Banga: Dear Czech Police, 27-year-olds do not just up and die
Three days ago, somebody died in the town of Žatec under circumstances that are basically absolutely unclear. According to one version of what happened, the man assaulted customers in a restaurant and local police intervened against him.
Up to that point in the story I can still relatively comprehend what occurred. Somebody who attacks others must be pacified.
We have the police for dealing with such situations. There is a catch, though.
The official conclusion is that the person died without anybody else being responsible for his death. Such a conclusion does not, however, correspond to the video footage taken by a customer in the restaurant where the incident transpired.
I would probably accept any other explanation for this person's death. For example, I don't know if the person was drunk, high, or ill at the time.
If one of those factors played a role during the police intervention, that I would understand. However, the video footage shows rather clearly that the officers are lying on top of the person, who is moaning, and who therefore is demonstrably still alive.
The next thing we see is a police officer performing CPR. What happened in between?
Why, too, are the police staying quiet about the fact that eyewitnesses say somebody else allegedly kicked the man in the neck before the police ever got there? Was it at all necessary for their intervention to be performed with the intensity that can be seen in the video footage?
Similar situations involving police have happened here before. In 2011 a young Romani schizophrenic man experienced a fit, could not be calmed by emergency medical responders, police intervened, and the man died.
Specifically, the officers used a taser to pacify that particular individual, and then he died. The authorities subsequently found that intervention to have been proportionate - all ok.
That depends on your point of view, I suppose. Then last year, a young Romani man reported that police officers had beaten him bloody because he was in a relationship with the daughter of one of them.
The officers drove him into the forest and threatened to kill him. After he reported the crime, that young man was rumored to be a cheat and a liar.
He was said to be a horror and a terror. The police officers were eventually convicted, though, and it was proven in court that the young man had told the truth.
Nobody seemed to care that one of those officers was allowed to merrily remain on duty once his conviction had taken effect. So I don't know what to take away from all of this.
Should I begin to fear that the current American model of police interaction with minorities is happening here too? The Czech media are quiet about what happened at the pizzeria - with the exception of a Romani news server, nobody has published a word about the memorial assembly that was held yesterday for the deceased.
The 100 people who attended that event didn't go there for no reason - they want an explanation. Frankly, I understand them.
If it were my relative who had died, then a single sentence stating that he died without a third party being culpable would not be enough for me either. It especially would not be good enough once I had seen the video footage of the incident, where it decidedly does not appear that he died of his own accord.
The rest of the media should want an explanation too. People don't just up and die for the fun of it.
In my humble opinion, the Czech Police should know that. If there was any other aspect to the circumstances - a disease without visible symptoms, a reaction to any kind of stimulus, drugs, alcholol, allergies - then for God's sake, tell us.
Don't tell me, though, that a 27-year-old lying prone under a pile of constables has died "just because". We lived through such circumstances in this country before, but the police uniforms were green and the people involved greeted each other as "Comrade".
Reprinted with the kind permission of the author from his blog on iDNES.cz.
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