Romea.cz recovers mobile phone video of Czech Police procedure against Romani driver, case being reviewed by oversight board
News server Romea.cz published the mobile phone video yesterday of an incident between a police officer and a Romani driver during a traffic stop at the beginning of November on the Máj housing estate in the town of České Budějovice after which the driver had to seek medical attention and was hospitalized with a bruised neck and suspected concussion. The driver had been attempting to film one of the officers involved in the traffic stop using his mobile phone, but the officer physically prevented him from doing so, took the phone away, erased the recording and smashed the phone itself.
News server Romea.cz managed to recover the erased video from the memory card and has now published it. The audio track of the video recording captures the argument between the driver and the police officer over what the driver is legally obligated to provide to the officer and gives the impression that the driver is irritated.
When the driver approaches one of the officers to film his identification number, the officer says he will not be filmed and the video shows him pushing away the hand holding the telephone. The driver told news server Romea.cz that the officer prevented him from filming by grabbing his coat and then pushed him to the ground, where he knelt on top of him and handcuffed him.
The driver insists he did nothing to necessitate being brutally pacified and handcuffed while prone on the ground. He is of the opinion that the officers stopped him and then proceeded against him because they are in the habit of singling out Romani drivers against whom to intervene in such a way.
Police reject allegations that the intervention was somehow not up to standard, but the case has been investigated by their Internal Affairs Department and is also being reviewed by the Inspector-General of the Security Forces (GIBS). The driver of the car told news server Romea.cz that he has been receiving anonymous messages recently in which somebody is vulgarly expressing views of the situation.
Police procedure expert: Drivers are authorized to film police officers
"Any driver is authorized to film any police officer. Any police officer in uniform represents the long arm of the state and is acting in the public interest. Filming police is, in a way, monitoring how the public administration functions," Jindřich Komárek of the Police Academy of the Czech Republic told news server Romea.cz.
Jiří Matzner, spokesperson for the South Bohemian Regional Police Directorate, also said anybody has the right to film how police officers proceed when dealing with transgressions because members of the Police of the Czech Republic, when fulfilling their lawful duties, are executing the powers of the public administration and are not acting as private individuals when serving the public. As the Frank Bold association has posted to its website, this means that "...filming [police] behavior cannot be assessed as interference with their personality rights, e.g., the right to privacy".
Moreover, there is no legal regulation banning anybody from making an audio or video recording of a police officer on duty. "Just as a police officer is obliged to allow recording of his intervention while on duty during a traffic stop, the driver is just as obliged to allow the traffic stop to happen. At the moment the driver disagrees with the procedure, the driver has the right to complain," Komárek said.
The expert also pointed out that police officers are not obliged to inform drivers why they are stopping them at the beginning of a traffic stop. "The police officer checks the basic elements involved - the driver, proof the driver has met his legal obligations, and especially the vehicle itself, and can call on the driver to make it possible for the police to check the trunk or the legally-required equipment of the vehicle," Komárek said.
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