The Municipal Police in Prague are looking into a video of an incident where an officer slapped a young woman, knocking her to the ground, during a check on a possible violation of the restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Officers checked a group of young people at the pond in Prague’s Řepy district due to a complaint that they violated the emergency rules concerning public gatherings. People should not be in groups larger than two unless they are part of the same family, and faces should be covered outside of the home. Failure to comply with the rules carries a fine of up to 10,000 CZK.
A woman with the initials TS posted the video of Facebook, and it quickly had thousands of views. She said that she and three friends were wearing masks and sitting by a pond near the Praha-Zličín railway station, when someone complained to the police.
“They came from two sides, altogether five or six. They began to behave aggressively and threatened us with a fine, which of course they were entitled to do. We realize that we violated the decree and therefore do not completely refute their behavior. So everything went well until one of the friends confronted the officer with the fact that there were other people who did not keep their [social] distance,” TS said.
“Then he got the fist in his face from the guard (not on the record) and then when I (verbally) argued for him, I got slapped. The policeman’s physical assault was preceded by absolutely no aggression, verbal insult, or interference in his personal space. He also refused to give us his name or ID number several times and we asked him again,” TS said.
The Municipal Police responded on Facebook, saying that “this must not happen again.”
“We recorded a video from a social network and immediately forwarded it for review to an independent supervisory body, the Municipal Police Inspectorate of the City of Prague. Although we do not yet know exactly what happened on the spot, it is clear from the presented part of the video that our officer behaved unprofessionally and in violation of the law, which is completely unacceptable to us and we are very sorry,” the Municipal Police said on Facebook, in a post with the video.
“The Municipal Police in Prague has over 2,200 employees and we would very much like everyone to always behave as it should be. Unfortunately, we are not always able to influence this and at the moment we perceive it as an individual’s failure. Once we have the results of the Inspectorate’s investigation, we will publish it. We are facing the whole situation and we would like to apologize for the failure of our employee,” they added.
Response to post on the Municipal Police Facebook page has been mixed. Some people point out that only the end of the incident is seen, so it lacks context. Others were critical of the officer, who is much larger than the woman in the video, for resorting to violence and bullying rather than resolving the situation peacefully or giving them a fine for not complying.
One person, however, pointed out that people should be home instead of out partying, and that trying to reason with them verbally is ineffective.