An American lawyer who claims she was racially mistreated by police officers who arrested her outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague has denied that the court apologised over the incident.*
Chaka Laguerre, 30, who has a 10-month clerkship at the ICJ, posted an account of her arrest on Facebook in which she said she was the victim of ‘racially motivated police brutality’.
Police swiftly issued an angry response, stating that Ms Laguerre had resisted arrest and that they would be filing a complaint with the ICJ. The Facebook post was taken down and police later said Paul van Musscher, head of the city’s police division, had accepted an apology from the court.
But in a statement issued on Monday, a lawyer acting for Ms Laguerre said there had been no apology and the court was backing her demand for an independent investigation into the matter.
Caroline Buisman, of Stapert & Weirsum lawyers, also said police had not filed a complaint with the ICJ. Ms Laguerre has filed a formal complaint against the two officers who arrested her two weeks ago.
She added that Ms Laguerre had not seen CCTV footage of the incident until several days after police showed it privately to reporters from a local newspaper and TV station. The images have not been made public.
Ms Laguerre said she was ‘roughed up’ by two officers who stopped her as she crossed the street with her bike outside the ICJ against a red pedestrian light. She was arrested for failing to produce ID.
Ms Buisman said: ‘Ms Laguerre did, in fact, carry two ID’s with her: one issued by the ICJ, which is in plain view in her bicycle basket and drops on the ground when Ms Laguerre is pulled by the police; and one issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is in her computer bag that equally drops to the ground.
‘As the CCTV footage confirms, Ms Laguerre does not get an opportunity to get her ID card out of her bag.’
The lawyer also disputed the police’s account that Ms Laguerre had run away from police, pointing out she was wearing high heels at the time. Ms Buisman said the footage shows how her client ‘secures her bicycle on its stand and requests that the two policemen follow her to the security of the ICJ to verify her identity.’
The law firm said it was trying to obtain CCTV footage from other cameras near the scene and would be filing a complaint with police.
* Editor’s note: The ICJ wrote to the AD which made the original claim about an apology on February 2 to say it had not apologised to the police. That letter became public on February 6. DutchNews.nl had not seen the letter at the time of writing this report and based its article on the lawyer’s statement.
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