Sunday, March 15, 2009

Austrian police's version of events, warning: lots of whining and trying to make Mike look like a liar

This is a translated version of the article from http://kripo-online.at folowing the article are my response to some of the things written

Police confused an innocent man with a drug dealer. The police were then accused of racism and did not react, at least in the important first days after the event.

Mike B., a teacher, became a symbol of racism. From the Miami Herald to the New York Times: the story of the Vienna International School teacher whom the investigators of the Vienna police mistook for a drug dealer and and injured him so badly that he need to go the hospital spread from the Sunday-KURIER around the world. In an interview Mike B. talked about lieing policemen, Solidarity in the Web and a long struggle. "That was the headline on page 1 of the KURIER. In the Press Club Concordia a press conference and panel discussion was held, on "Racism in the Vienna police?" Description: "Mike Brennan, an Afro-American teacher living in Vienna beaten by the police because he is black and was falsely identified. Many are watching and doing nothing. Not an isolated case." The cartoonist Gerhard Haderer was at least able to find a little humor in this sad subject. He depicted a danger for the American President Barack Obama being attacked by the Vienna police because of his skin color.

Is Austria not a holiday destination?

If a naive American reads in the New York Times about the status in remote Old-Europe, he’ll probably rebook his planned vacation not in Austria but rather in a safe country such as Mexico, Colombia or Somalia. And, dear Chancellor Faymann, should Barack Obama not come on a state visit in the next 4 years - now you know that it is not your fault! What has this international crisis triggered in Austria? Investigators for the drug group against street crime (EGS) were on the trail of an African group of offenders, a suspect was observed in the U4. This continued into the subway car where Mike B., American citizen and teacher in Vienna, was. The suspected drug dealer, and Mike B. were similarly dressed in dark jackets and hats, both had an athletic build. This similarity, together with the black skin color created confusion in identifying the right man. What followed in the the minutes after has widely differing versions.
Mike B. KURIER interview: "... Because I was beaten again and again. The men did not identify themselves. I thought they were going to kill me I screamed loudly."
KURIER: Did the police apologize?
Mike B.: No one has apologized. On the contrary. The police are lieing about everything. "

In the ORF-program "Heimat, fremde Heimat", Mike B. said that his girlfriend had to call the Ambulance.

Scandalous!

If only it had happened that way. Now this story has spread throughout the media. And what do the police have to say about it? Police Commander Karl Mahrer spoke in an ORF interview about the unfortunate mix-up and that they would naturally apologize to him. Were there any more details about how the incident happened, denial of the, not so unimportant, accusations from Mike B.? No, the press referred only to the current investigation by the BBE (Office of Special Investigations) and the District Attorney’s office.
Those who have nothing to say often have something to hide. Follow-up stories to this theme have operated under this Motto. Unfortunately, because there was nothing to hide., that because of a mistake, a -in the meantime, international - scandal has arisen, is because of the weak to nonexistent Crisis management of the Police, not to mention the flowery and possibly not completely correct version of the event according to the victim and the largely excessive conlusions of the media. This wall, that itself denies fundamental information about this incident, opens all doors for speculation, and has given Mike B. and his lawyer the opportunity, for weeks, to have the final say about the truth behind the story.

A journalist of a daily newspaper says that there were media inquiries to the press office of the BPD-Vienna already on Friday the 13th of February, two days after the confusion in the U4. Nobody there knew anything about it. The first official press release from the police came out on Monday the 16th, after the media machinery was already fully underway. Journalist: "This case never would have taken on the dimensions it has had the police provided an official statement immediately. Many allegations would have already been nipped in the bud."

At the latest, when the police recognized that the media was creating some kind of myth out of the story, they should have held a joint press conference with the Police and Prosecutor, and laid the facts and answers on the table. They should have informed the media and the public in a serious manner which would have hindered the spreading of lies and speculations. But only one side expressed itself in this way. And they used that wide opened ear for their own cause. Also the editors from the “Criminal police [kripo-online.at]” requests for information and interview opportunities at the press office have been rebuffed. The courts still cannot give us any other information because the Case has not yet arrived at the Prosecutor Korneuberg which will be handling the case. An undercover drug agent, whose name I have forgotten, expressed his frustration at the “onesided and unfair coverage…It’s incorrect that the agents did not identify themselves as police. It’s incorrect, that Mike B. was beaten. He was, because he did not follow the order ‘stop police’ and the agents feared he would flee, forcibly taken to the ground. After a short time the agents were informed over their radios that they had the wrong person. The agents let him go immediately and apologized for the mix-up. As he then, after a few minutes, complained of pain one of the agents called the ambulance and hung up immediately because the victim’s girlfriend had already called. A female colleague called Mike B.’s girlfriend and apologized to him in every way on the same day and invited him for an official visit so it could be explained to him how such a mix-up could occur. On the next day no one responded to the calls from the police. I don‘t understand why our press office doesn‘t correct some of the accusations, and why we are being portrayed as racist.” The call to the ambulance, the call from the female colleague, things that are easily checked and could prove whether Mike B. is telling the truth, or the police. Also the injury report should bring conclusions as to whether or not there is evidence that he was beaten.

Damaged Image

Why? Because, should a court come to the conclusion that the police did not handle Mike B. inhumanely during the mistaken arrest, as it is being spread all over the place, parts of the justice system will probably accuse the police of “teaming up”. Because everyone knows the “truth” from the media! The already inflicted damage through the media’s use of the inflationary expression “Misshandlung [abuse, mistreatment]” cannot be repaired by any court judgement. A Club 2 program dealt with the theme, “What‘s going on with our police?” Among others, guests of the program included Mike B, and Gerhard Puerstl. The President of the Vienna Police President [Puerstl] reacted calmly and with sovereignty, he found the right words, that had been overdue for quite a while, and suddenly the the public could have an idea of the incident, and the skewed views could be brought back to reality! Back to the accusations of racism: would the same thing have happened to Mike B. if he was white? Clear answer: No! But only because the description of the suspect also included a tip about black skin. Josef Boeck, Lead Criminal Official in LKA-Vienna and chairman of the organization “Fair und sensible-Polizei und Afrikaner (fair and sensible-police and Africans)” opined: “Every day there are investigations with suspect descriptions, and every day people in the vicinity of a crime scene that have a similar description to a suspect are checked and also taken in for line ups. Sometimes the suspects are caught, but often it happens to people uninvolved in the case, that are just as innocent as Mike B. If Mike B. had followed the orders of the police and shown his I.D. the mix-up would have been cleared up after a minute.”

No Prejudice

Now to the underlying question: Do the police, especially the drug agents, have a problem with people with black skin? No, but Austria’s drug agents have, like their colleauges in a lot of industrial countries, a major problem with criminal groups from a part of Africa. Guenther Zaeuner, journalist and author of “Drogenreports Österreich [Austrian Drug Reports]” said in an interview: “The fact is, this area of western Africa, the countries around Nigeria, Gambia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is home to one of the most dangerous and busiest Mafia organisations of today. Also the majority of the drug supply in Vienna is in black hands.” Do the many arrests of suspects of African origin now follow a logical pattern of this development or is it really “Ethnic Profiling”, as Amnesty International general secretary Heinz Patelt has accused the police. Counterquestion: Do the Economy police have racist prejudices against white people, that often wear suits and carry briefcases? No? Why do they arrest people that fit this description 90% of the time? The difference between prejudice and racism on the one side and criminal facts on the other side is as big as the real battle against racism on the one side and the artificial inflation of a mistake for personal and economic reasons on the other side.
Resisting arrest?

In the meantime the first investigatory findings have come out. Witnesses admit that both officers appropriately identified themselves. Indeed Mike B. resisted arrest. At that point the police used bodily force. What happened to the suspect tat looks so much like Mike B.? He fled over several plattforms and a fence, before he could be apprehended by officers from the radio car. In his jacket a large inventory of white balls was found. I can imagin that he is sitting in his cell and laughing as he reads the newspaper racsim-stories about “his” drug agents.

My response

"If a naive American reads in the New York Times about the status in remote Old-Europe, he’ll probably rebook his planned vacation not in Austria but rather in a safe country such as Mexico, Colombia or Somalia."

CRAIG-Give me a break, quit your whining and do something about it!

"The suspected drug dealer, and Mike B. were similarly dressed in dark jackets and hats, both had an athletic build. This similarity, together with the black skin color created confusion in identifying the right man."

CRAIG-At which point the Policeman should have made a decision not to apprehend until a more exact description could be given - FIRST HUGE MISTAKE!

"Were there any more details about how the incident happened, denial of the, not so unimportant, accusations from Mike B.?"

CRAIG-I have read plenty of articles that say Police deny any wrongdoing, and have read their version of events, what is he talking about - quit whining!

"a -in the meantime, international - scandal has arisen, is because of the weak to nonexistent Crisis management of the Police"

CRAIG-You said it yourself, best comment in the whole article and you hit it right on the head!

"not to mention the flowery and possibly not completely correct version of the event according to the victim and the largely excessive conlusions of the media"

CRAIG-So their proof that Mike is lieing is that, A-he said neither of the officers called the ambulance (actually Mike has said they wouldn't call the ambulance and that one said "they always do this" in reference to black people) and B-that he said no one apologized to him (absolutely correct they called his girlfriend, not him, the day after and apologized, and tried to call her on Friday and when she didn't answer they gave up, it must be noted that Mike and his girlfriend recieved upwards of 100 calls on each of these 2 days alone and oftentimes did not pick up)

"The first official press release from the police came out on Monday the 16th, after the media machinery was already fully underway. Journalist: "This case never would have taken on the dimensions it has had the police provided an official statement immediately. Many allegations would have already been nipped in the bud."

CRAIG-I absolutely agree with this, it's obvious that they didn't know what to say and that they had to come up with some kind of story, thus the long time before the press release, and the often changing story and accusations that Mike is making this up and faking his injury, which by the way is completely absurd in its own right.

"At the latest, when the police recognized that the media was creating some kind of myth out of the story, they should have held a joint press conference with the Police and Prosecutor, and laid the facts and answers on the table."

CRAIG-Once again absolutely correct, the fact that this did not happen shows that they don't or didn't at the time know any "facts" and had to find a way to attack Mike, thus the long time between incident and press release.

"Also the editors from the “Criminal police [kripo-online.at]” requests for information and interview opportunities at the press office have been rebuffed."

CRAIG-They don't even know what to tell the editors of their own website, more indication of guilt!

"An undercover drug agent, whose name I have forgotten, expressed his frustration at the “onesided and unfair coverage…It’s incorrect that the agents did not identify themselves as police. It’s incorrect, that Mike B. was beaten. He was, because he did not follow the order ‘stop police’ and the agents feared he would flee, forcibly taken to the ground. After a short time the agents were informed over their radios that they had the wrong person. The agents let him go immediately and apologized for the mix-up. As he then, after a few minutes, complained of pain one of the agents called the ambulance and hung up immediately because the victim’s girlfriend had already called. A female colleague called Mike B.’s girlfriend and apologized to him in every way on the same day and invited him for an official visit so it could be explained to him how such a mix-up could occur. On the next day no one responded to the calls from the police. I don‘t understand why our press office doesn‘t correct some of the accusations, and why we are being portrayed as racist.”

CRAIG-I'm sorry Mr. Drug Agent sir, but I have seen the police take down an African before, without identifying themselves at all, and even if they would have they could not have stopped themselves before tackling the guy. I witnessed it with my own eyes and thought it was a Neo-Nazi attack, began making my way over to intervene, when someone saw me on my way, they yelled Polizei, Poliei! 5 guys on one, and yes they did punch him and kick him. I witnessed it with my own eyes and swore never to keep silent again.
----also---- aw, isn't that sweet, they invited Mike down for an official visit to the Police station so they could explain to him why it wasn't their fault, yet no one could come to the hospital for that? They never showed enough respect to Mike and they still aren't they treat him like an idiot and a liar, which I can personally assure you is not the case!

"The call to the ambulance, the call from the female colleague, things that are easily checked and could prove whether Mike B. is telling the truth, or the police. Also the injury report should bring conclusions as to whether or not there is evidence that he was beaten."

CRAIG-The thing is Mike asked them to call an ambulance and they refused in the first place, I don't know whether they even called at all but I think that will clear itself up very soon ;) And wow you are so right sir! The injury report is in and Mike has 2 broken vertebrae! Not easy for a football player of 20 years whose never had such an injury to get something like that by falling on his back.

"The President of the Vienna Police President [Puerstl] reacted calmly and with sovereignty, he found the right words, that had been overdue for quite a while, and suddenly the the public could have an idea of the incident, and the skewed views could be brought back to reality! "

CRAIG-Holy handgrenade, Batman! Uh, I saw Mr. Police President talking under his breath to the FPOe lady the entire program, almost like they were, excuse the pun, in bed together! In fact this article sounds eerily similar to what I hear coming out of the FPOe, so much so that it makes me believe what several Austrians have told me in the past few weeks, that the Police department consists of 80% FPOe people, just speculation, but not that far-fetched.

"If Mike B. had followed the orders of the police and shown his I.D. the mix-up would have been cleared up after a minute."

CRAIG-My god, this one has been hashed and rehashed over and over. Mike never heard the words Stop, Police! Mike showed his identification as soon as he was able to after being beaten by the cops for several minutes.

"Also the majority of the drug supply in Vienna is in black hands."

CRAIG-Numbers, statistics, anything to prove that statement? That is exactly what is coming out of the FPOe! Please show me some statistics, I've seen other statistics that tell a much different story.

"Do the many arrests of suspects of African origin now follow a logical pattern of this development or is it really “Ethnic Profiling”, as Amnesty International general secretary Heinz Patelt has accused the police."

CRAIG-First off, man if Amnesty Internation calls it racial profiling and you don't at least take a step back and investigate your practices, there is something wrong.

"Counterquestion: Do the Economy police have racist prejudices against white people, that often wear suits and carry briefcases? No? Why do they arrest people that fit this description 90% of the time?"

CRAIG-Seriously? Did he really pose that question? I can guarantee you that the "economy police" didn't accidentally arrest some guy who looked like Bernie Madoff on the street. They have paper trails and addresses, and often times arrest the person at their house.

"In the meantime the first investigatory findings have come out. Witnesses admit that both officers appropriately identified themselves. Indeed Mike B. resisted arrest."

CRAIG-Witnesses, hmmmmm? Like the witness who said Mike was hopping around the hospital room when no one was there and had no injuries whatsoever, whoops! They let that cat out of the bag before the Hospital confirmed he has 2 broken vertebrae! I won't believe one witness that the police put forward, not one!!!

"What happened to the suspect tat looks so much like Mike B.?"

CRAIG-Yeah, why haven't we seen a picture of him so we can see how much alike they look? I guarantee you that won't happen!

Evidence of changing stories by the police:

3 different versions of what they said:
"Die Zivilfahnder hätten Brennan mit dem Worten "Stopp, Polizei!" angesprochen. "
http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=1234507663606

"Er wurde, da er der Aufforderung "Stop, Police!" nicht Folge"
http://www.kripoonline.at/portal/0903-blues.asp

"So wie im Untersuchungsbericht festgestellt, hätten sich die Beamten mit den Worten "Stop, police, you are arrested" (Halt, Polizei. Sie sind festgenommen.) klar deklariert. "
Puerstl-Club2 interview
http://wien.orf.at/stories/345015/

What did they really say then?

----------

"Als dieser nicht stehenblieb, hätten sie ihn "am Gewand gepackt", sodass Brennan "das Gleichgewicht verlor und zu Boden ging" - here they say the pushed him up against the wall and he lost his balance and fell down. http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=1234507663606

"leistete und die Kollegen einen Fluchtversuch befürchteten, mit Körperkraft zu Boden gebracht. " Here they say he was brought down by bodily force.
http://www.kripoonline.at/portal/0903-blues.asp

So how did he really get injured?