A black man and a friend are kicked, beaten and taken to court by the police. Now the two men have been acquitted.
EAT taz | It’s a drastic sentence. “The violence of the police is reminiscent of conditions in the USA. Our constitutional state must not accept that, ”said the judge at the Essen district court in the end of her verdict. She acquitted the defendants Mathis C. * and Dennis K., who were charged with allegedly resisting officials – resistance against those officials who were later defied with such drastic words by the judge. What happened?
In December 2019, the black Bundeswehr soldier Mathis C. and his friend Dennis K. got into a police traffic control in Essen. Instead of introducing himself and explaining the measure, the police officer Gerrit H. is said to have said to the three vehicle occupants: “Where are you from? Where do you want to go?”. Police officer H. himself said: “I can’t remember the exact wording”.
What happened next can be heard on a sound recording of the incident, of which it is not entirely clear how it came about. Then you can hear Mathis C. complaining loudly: “You only step on him because he was filming. Do you belong to a street gang or something? ”At this point, C. had to watch the police kick his friend Dennis K. on the ground.
He had previously tried to film the behavior of the police officers during the inspection. The department head is said to have knocked the smartphone out of his hand and then brought K. to the ground.
“Hopefully your eyes will burn out”
The regular soldier C. was “obviously worried” because Dennis K. was kicked, the judge determined in the courtroom. The sound recording can be heard as the policeman Gerrit H. now calls out to C.: “Go away”. Mathis C. paced up and down with excitement. The policeman had pulled his baton, the same person testified, but C. had shown himself to be unimpressed and provoked. Then the policeman is said to have drawn his pepper spray. Nothing of this can be heard on the sound recording.
At this point in time another officer joined in: “Calm down,” she can hear from C. on the recording. From the point of view of the police, Mathis C. should not have reacted. The sound recording, meanwhile, shows: C. became calm, was only slightly annoyed – “because he’s filming, ey,” he muttered. He leaned against the car with his hands in his jacket pocket, as the officers and C. himself described it.
In this situation, the police requested reinforcements: The officer Mirko W. came along. He and policeman H. want to have asked the defendant C. three times to take their hands out of their pockets. When asked by the judge, the two officials in the courtroom deny that C. had complied. On the sound recording you can hear how it only takes 2 seconds from a prompt to a rumble and painful noises from C. So he didn’t have time to comply with the request at all. The judge therefore accused the two officers of false testimony in the courtroom.
What can still be heard on the sound recording: An officer calls out: “Those shit hands on your back, otherwise I’ll break your arm, you wanker.” And: “Hopefully your eyes will burn out”, after which C. is on the floor Complained about pepper spray in the eye. Police violence for racist motivation? The acquitted C. commented to the taz: “I am not ruling out”.
Further allegations against the Essen police
It is unclear whether the public prosecutor’s office will appeal against the acquittal. She had requested six months probation for the defendants. Christian Hemmer, Mathis C.’s lawyer, is outraged: “The crimes were committed by the officers and not by the accused,” he told the taz. The separate investigations against the police officers for assault in the office are still ongoing.
After research by the taz, Mirko W., Matthias K. and another officer involved in the operation were reported in another case of alleged racist police violence. Loveth A., a 50-year-old black woman from Mülheim, went to the Essen Mitte police station with her children in March 2020. She wanted to file a complaint because her wallet was stolen.
A. stated that the first question the police asked was: “Have you been stolen or have you been stolen?” Later the situation escalated: up to 15 police officers fell on her and her children and injured them. The police confirmed a conflict, but justified the violence with “acts of resistance”. The police rejected the allegation of racism.
* Name changed