Riot police brutalize women who call for help in Prague
Police called to the scene of a recent scuffle at the Sandra discotheque in Prague 4 ended up brutalizing the very innocent bystanders who called them for help. Monika Dudyová (35) urged others to call police to the scene, only to then be assaulted by them.
Monika Dudyová will be remembering the last day of July 2010 for some time to come. She, her children, her fiancé and their friends went to the disco to have a good time and ended up in handcuffs at the police station and in hospitals for treatment. The evening was spoiled by two small groups of Roma who began to fight among themselves at the disco, posing a danger to others. Dudyová, who was mainly afraid for her children, asked her fiancé, Daniel Tatár, to call police and report the scuffle. Police did not arrive at the scene until the fighters had left the disco.
The trouble started for those who had called the police when they tried to step outside. Security guards did not want to let them go and tried to detain them until police arrived. Dudyová and her family did not intend to leave the scene, but had decided to wait for police outside since the music had stopped and almost all the other guests had already left. When they finally made it out of the building, they saw a police van parked about 200 meters away. "An unmarked car was parked near it with several men with shaved heads in it. The officers from the special intervention unit pointed out our group of 15-20 people to them. It’s possible they were skinheads, they like to take their anger out on us from time to time,” Patrik Grundza, a friend of Dudyová and Tatár, told the Romea.cz server.
Approximately 14 SPJ (Speciální pořádková jednotka) officers then stormed out of the van and started behaving aggressively toward Monika Dudyová and her friends. “They drove over to us, jumped out of the cars and started to ask for our identification,” says Grundza. “I was the first one they targeted. The officer who later beat Monika up started manhandling me. He grabbed me and started pushing me around, yelling ‘Stand here’. I guess I wasn’t standing right because he kept repeating it. He tried to use force against us all for no reason, and I don’t know why but he was trying to make us all form some sort of incomprehensible shape, not stand in line next to one another, which would be logical.” According to the police protocol, the policeman concerned was warrant officer Miroslav Kopecký. Monika Dudyová, who was showing her identification to another officer, objected to Kopecký’s treatment of Grundza by asking “What are you doing with him?” Kopecký approached her and started yelling: “Are you deaf too? Get over here!” Dudyová said she was dealing with the other officer and would stay where she was, but Kopecký insisted she obey him in an enraged voice. When she did not, he twisted her arm. Witnesses report the scene then unfolded as follows:
Adriana Dudyová, Monika’s daughter, went to her mother’s defense and did her best to get her out of Kopecký’s grip, swearing angrily at the officers. Kopecký continued to hold onto Monika as someone punched Adriana in the head. The testimonies at this point are unclear, as it was dark and everything happened quickly. Some say Kopecký struck Adriana with his free hand, others say it might have been another officer. Monika Dudyová herself did not see who exactly struck her daughter, but understandably wanted to protect her. In the course of trying to get out of Kopecký’s grip, she punched him. That unleashed a massacre. Some of the officers beat up Adriana, while others, including Kopecký, punched Monika and then kicked her after she was lying on the ground. Monika, of course, did not learn what had happened to her until the next day, because she lost consciousness for a time after the first blows. “One officer grabbed her hair, threw her to the ground and kneeled on her until she started to choke, while the other two kicked her. I was in total shock, I became terribly afraid,” says Patrik Grundza. When one of the onlookers asked the officers afterward why three of them had beaten a single woman unconscious, he received this answer: “If she had weighed 60 kilograms like a normal woman and not 300, we wouldn’t have done it.”
Daniel Tatár, Patrik Grundza and their friends were only able to watch the entire event because the other officers were threatening them with collapsible nightsticks if they made the slightest movement. “One of the officers waved the nightstick at Monica’s son and said ‘Take one step and you’ll get this in the face,’” says Patrik Grundza.
“I can’t describe what it’s like…for them to be beating your wife on the ground and holding you back, you are completely defenseless…that says it all. I felt as helpless as if I were in a concentration camp somewhere. The children saw it all, saw them beat up their mother, and they are in total shock,” says Daniel Tatár.
Officers then put Monika Dudyová into the van and cuffed her hands behind her back so tightly that she was in great pain and the blood flow to her hands was impeded. They forbade her to sit on a seat and rolled her onto the floor of the van. When she asked them to loosen the cuffs, no one responded. “I can take a lot of pain, but this was really too much. On a scale of one to 10 I would say giving birth was a six and being handcuffed after being beaten up was a nine,” Dudyová says.
Municipal police took her to the station. “Those police officers, unlike the special units, were normal, decent, and some of them even cursed the riot guys,” Daniel Tatár told Romea.cz. One municipal officer wanted to take the bloody handcuffs off of Monika at the station, but the SPJ officer would not let him. “Then I sat there and about eight officers from that special unit came in. One of them started calling me a ‘sumo’, as if I should be a wrestler because of my figure,” says Dudyová.
In the meantime, Monika’s friends had called an ambulance, which arrived at the station and took her to the hospital. The doctor suspected she might have a concussion but was unable to confirm it, as she was taken for interrogation the next morning and then signed release papers from the hospital. She had bruises all over her body, the largest on her belly from being kicked, and on her wrists from the handcuffs. “When I was in the ward, one of the officers came to tell me that if I wasn’t a woman he would have finished me off. They also did their best to convince the doctors to let them put the handcuffs on me again, but the doctors wouldn’t even talk to them. In the morning the nurses took my blood at the request of police to test it for alcohol - but I never consented to have it drawn. I simply do not understand any of this, it’s an enormous violation of my human rights,” Dudyová says.
Monika Dudyová has been under treatment for depressive anxiety disorder for some time. Her doctor has confirmed in writing that the state of her health has now deteriorated: “From our perspective there has been a decompensation [deterioration] of her neurotic disorder as a result of this psychological trauma.”
We were not able to get a hold of warrant officer Kopecký for his comment, but he described the entire event for the TV Prima channel differently than Monika Dudyová and the witnesses: “For some unknown reason the woman refused to show me her identification and instead punched me in the face… she had massive rings on her fingers, so it was a rather harsh blow and caused lacerations below my eye.”
Prague Police spokesperson Eva Kropáčová also gave TV Prima a completely different commentary on the incident than eyewitnesses have: “Since the situation was not pacified by the arrival of patrol officers to the scene and the fights were recurring, another patrol of emergency units and a Special Order Unit went there… The woman was charged with assaulting a public official, for which she faces up to four years in prison.” Monika Dudyová, however, is planning to file criminal charges against Miroslav Kopecký and the other officers, and the state prosecutor and police inspection authority will therefore be involved. We will report on future statements by police within the week.
“Less than an hour before the whole incident we were in the metro station, and a patrol of six officers were checking people’s identification. They asked us for ours as well. This angered my daughter and she snapped at one of them because he had yelled at her disrespectfully, but I chewed her out on the spot for talking to police that way. Some of those same officers were sent to the hospital the next morning to take me for interrogation. I told them what had happened and they couldn’t believe I would have attacked a police officer. They said, ‘With us you were completely ok’. They even gave me a cigarette and took the handcuffs and other restraints off. We go to church regularly - Daniel and I are going to get married in the church. Now, instead of my wedding, I have to deal with this ridiculous case,” says Monika Dudyová.
This is the second case of police in Prague attacking innocent people in the last two weeks. Recently, officers reportedly attacked two of three Roma in a car at the Florenc bus station for absolutely no reason. They explained their violent behavior by saying they suspected the two had traded places behind the steering wheel.
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