Officers in southern Hesse overwrite incriminating video after police violence
Police in the German city Idstein, Hesse, have overwritten footage from a camera showing a arbitrary act of violence. 38-year-old Liam Conway wanted to pick up his 75-year-old father, who had appeared at the police station in the Rheingau-Taunus district because of a traffic accident. However, because of his allegedly aggressive behaviour, Conway ended up on the ground, where he was punched several times in the face by officers with their fists and the flat of their hands. Another police officer pushed his knee into Conway’s neck, scraping the man’s face on the ground.
The incident was reported by the “Frankfurter Rundschau” on Tuesday. The brutal attack took place back in September 2020. Four months earlier, the US-American George Floyd had been murdered by the police in Minneapolis. “I can’t breathe”, the dying man had shouted to the police officer kneeling in his neck and to filming passers-by. These last words then became the slogan of worldwide protests against racist police violence. Conway, who was thus fixed, also reportedly shouted, “Ah, ah, I can’t breathe!”.
Both Conway and the police responded to the incident by pressing charges. Cameras are installed outside the police station, so the victim’s lawyer asked for the footage to be secured. However, the police ignored this, therefore the material was “as technically preset, systematically and automatically overwritten by new recordings after 21 days”, the police headquarters of Westhessen had explained to the “Frankfurter Rundschau”.
However, on the initiative of the Wiesbaden public prosecutor’s office, the recordings were “elaborately reconstructed”, reports the newspaper, which was also able to inspect them. “This not only makes clear the brutality of what happened, but also that several officers apparently made false statements about it,” the paper says.
From two perspectives, it said, it was easy to see Conway being taken out of the station without him becoming aggressive as alleged. When the door opened, a police officer reportedly put Conway in a chokehold. During the subsequent restraint, another police officer is said to have been particularly brutal.
The police officers had even watched the videos the day after the crime, but no one had thought of saving them, writes the “Frankfurter Rundschau”. It is still unclear whether the charges against Conway will be withdrawn or the police officers involved will correct their statements. His lawyer points out how “clearly wrong” the officers had testified, who had probably relied on the fact that the recordings had disappeared. “This, of course, we must and will bring to legal consequences.”
The fact that the officers denounced the victim after their crime, apparently agreed on false statements and did not secure the most important evidence shows once again how dangerous esprit de corps can become in the police, said Torsten Felstehausen, parliamentary director and spokesperson on domestic policy of the parliamentary group Die Linke in the Hessian state parliament.
Published in German in „nd“.