Police in Rotterdam have begun an internal investigation into three officers accused of racially abusing a mixed-race family while arresting them in Dordrecht.
The three family members – a 45-year-old black man, his white 37-year-old partner and their 18-year-old son – were detained for violently resisting arrest on Sinterklaasavond, December 5.
Police issued a press release the next day alleging that the man attempted to suffocate an arresting officer and described the incident as an ‘extreme outburst of violence’ that ‘cannot be excused in any way.’
But images from CCTV cameras belonging to the local property owners’ association showed officers pinned the family to the ground and can be heard using racial slurs such as ‘kutn***r’. One male officer pressed his knee on the man’s neck for a minute and a half and punched him in the face repeatedly while handcuffing him. The officers can also be seen using pepper spray at close range in the footage, which has been seen by NRC.
Forensic analysis of the footage by a specialist team in Groningen confirmed that one of two male officers used at least one racial insult and said at one point: ‘That bitch can be taken away too,’ referring to the 37-year-old woman.
The woman said the officer also shouted ‘seize those filthy n*****s’, but this was inaudible on the footage. She claimed that at one point she said: ‘I can’t breathe’, to which the officer allegedly replied: ‘I don’t give a f*ck’.
The family’s lawyer, Justin Kötter, filed a formal complaint on behalf of the family, which has now prompted an internal review led by the public prosecution service’s Rotterdam division.
The 45-year-old father was held in custody for 18 days and his son for three days following the incident. They are due to appear in court on January 14. The woman was released after one day and is not facing charges.
‘Lies’ in report
The incident began at around midnight when police were called out to deal with a complaint of a dog barking. The 45-year-old man, who was a neighbour, became involved when a painter who had been doing a job for him told an officer to break down the door when they received no reply.
When the officer ignored him, the man insulted him and walked off, prompting an altercation that led to the struggle with the family on the ground which can be seen in the footage. As the incident escalated dozens more police officers, including two in plain clothes, appeared on the scene.
According to NRC, the mother claims officers ‘told a lot of lies and left out a load of stuff’ in their official report of the incident. ‘The police didn’t know everything was being filmed, otherwise we’d never have been able to show what really happened,’ she said.
Rotterdam police said the complaint would be investigated ‘diligently’. None of the officers involved has been suspended from duty.
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