POLICE BRUTALITY

Catalan riot officer says he batoned youth’s ear “by mistake”

Policeman claims he aimed nightstick at victim’s legs, but was thrown off balance

A witness captured the incident on camera.
A witness captured the incident on camera.Pedro Mata

A Catalan police officer standing trial for bodily injury told a judge on Wednesday that he had aimed his baton at the plaintiff’s legs, but was thrown off balance and hit his head instead.

The incident took place in Barcelona on May 27, 2014, during street protests over the eviction of a squatter center called Can Vies in the Sants neighborhood.

The city’s plans to tear down Can Vies were at the heart of a violent four-day confrontation between street protestors and riot police.

As a result of the blow, the young man had to undergo surgery to reconstruct his left ear

The defendant, a member of the Mossos d’Esquadra regional police force, admitted that he was the person shown hitting Iván J. in photographs taken by an eyewitness.

But he alleged that a fellow police officer got in the way of the blow, throwing him off balance and diverting the weapon towards Iván J.’s head instead of the lower half of his body - the area that police regulations dictate should be targeted.

As a result of the blow, the young man had to undergo surgery to reconstruct his left ear, which was smashed by the force of the impact.

More information
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In his complaint, Iván J. said that at the time of the incident he was riding his bicycle to meet his partner at Sants square, and that two officers came up to him and hit him with the baton “without any exchange of words or motives to justify their action.”

But the police officer said that the young man had addressed them in a “threatening” manner, proferring “insults.” Two other officers – including the one who allegedly got in the way of the blow and inadvertently diverted it – ratified this version of events.

The police also said that they offered the youth medical assistance, but that he rejected it.

Lawyers for the plaintiff expressed their regret that the officer’s superiors never opened an internal investigation into the case.

English version by Susana Urra.

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