Czech Police President backs officers who intervened against Romani man who later died, expresses regret at the loss of life - the first such statement
Police President Jan Švejdar has expressed regret over the death of Romani community member Stanislav Tomáš in Teplice while simultaneously expressing his full support for the officers who intervened against him prior to his demise. After Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, Švejdar is now the third Czech official to stand up for the officers.
Švejdar's statement constitutes the very first time that regret for the life lost has been expressed by any member of the police. Tomorrow, at an extraordinary press conference, the police will publicize more information about the incident on Saturday and the intervention by the officers.
"I have carefully studied the circumstances of the intervention by the officers in Teplice. First and foremost, I sincerely regret the death of the young person and I am expressing my condolences to the bereaved," the Police President said.
"At the same time, I am expressing my full support for the intervening officers. I know you did the right thing and I stand by you!" he said.
According to a statement issued on Monday, civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs want to meet with the Police President about the incident and have also vigorously condemned the support for the officers as expressed by the Interior Minister and PM, who are also members of the Council. Unlike the Police President, neither of those politicians expressed regret for the death of Mr Tomáš.
The incident in Teplice happened on Saturday, 19 June. Amateur video footage was posted to social media from which it is apparent that the man had been physically resisting and shouting and that the officers had used force against him, including by kneeling on his neck.
As news server Romea.cz reported previously, the intervening officer knelt on the detained Romani man's neck for several minutes. According to the police, Mr Tomáš then collapsed and died in the ambulance called to the scene.
However, the video footage shows that Mr Tomáš stopped moving while already prone on the sidewalk, and it is not clear whether he was carried into the ambulance on a stretcher or whether the police helped him to his feet. That is one of the questions police might answer during the extraordinary press briefing that is meant to be held tomorrow at 15:00 in Ústí nad Labem.
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