Focus Rule of Law – Police violence: Epileptic seizure after use of pepper spray, public prosecutor’s office Berlin brings charges (Published on 02/03/2023)

One of the worst police assaults known here occurred during demonstrations against an amendment to the Infection Protection Act (“Infektionsschutzgesetz”) by the “Fourth Law for the Protection of the Population in the Event of an Epidemic Situation of National Significance” („Viertes Gesetz zum Schutz der Bevölkerung bei einer epidemischen Lage von nationaler Tragweite“) in Berlin on 21 April 2021.

Following a blow to the head with a pepper spray canister and a close-range spray directly to the face by a member of the Berlin police the man concerned went down and suffered an epileptic seizure. The police officers standing in the immediate vicinity initially made no effort to help the convulsing man.

The incident was documented on film by Markus Hoffmann on his website under the title “Police attack with pepper spray, Berlin, 21/04/2021” („Polizeiangriff mit Pfefferspray, Berlin, 21.04.2021“). In May 2021, I had filed a criminal complaint against the police officers involved for assault and for failure to render assistance with reference to this documentation. 

As the public prosecutor’s office recently indicated, it has filed charges for assault against one of these police officers at the Tiergarten County Court. According to information from the court, the main hearing will take place there on 09/03/2023, the hearing is expected to be public (docket no. (271 Ds) 232 Js 4415/21 (166/22)).

This is the first of several cases of police violence for which criminal complaints were filed from here in which charges have been brought. It remains to be seen what the outcome of the proceedings is going to be.

Procedural documents related to the case cannot be published at this time (cf. sec. 353d no. 3 of the German Criminal Code (“StGB”)).

(Head picture:
After the described incident on 21 April 2021 in Berlin,
source: Markus Hoffmann,

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