Bonn Visiting Israeli professor Yitzhak Melamed from Baltimore, Maryland, who police tackled and punched after mistakenly thinking him to be the attacker, has raised serious allegations against Bonn police.
The Baltimore-based Israeli professor Yitzhak Melamed, who was wrestled down by police officers on Wednesday around 2:20 pm following an anti-Semitic attack on him, has made serious allegations against the Bonn police. In an email received overnight, he told the General-Anzeiger about his experience.
The researcher at Johns Hopkins University describes the reaction of the police officers as very brutal and from his point of view completely exaggerated. When the guest researcher, who had traveled to Bonn for a lecture at the university, flew on Thursday morning back to the U.S., he felt that after receiving an apology from Bonn's chief of police Ursula Brohl Sowa, they had "parted as friends". During the flight, he then read in the first press releases - based on the information provided by police - that he resisted arrest and for that reason the officers had to "punch him in the face," the researcher said. He was very angry about that, because in his view it was a distortion of what took place. The police press release stated, "He (the professor) was subdued by the police, tackled down to the ground and held there. According to the officers, he tried to resist these measures - so the police also hit him in the face. "
When the police officers first arrived at the Hofgarten, they initially moved slowly towards him and his companion. The 20-year-old attacker had been alarmed by the police siren and ran away, already having gained some distance. The professor hesitated at first and then ran after the young man, who had hit him several times on the Kippa he was wearing on his head, insulted him and pushing him. As police were in pursuit at the Hofgarten, the professor realized at some point that they were heading for him and not the 20-year-old suspect.
Then everything went very quickly. The police forced him down from both sides. "They pushed me to the ground. I was unable to move.” What followed were “a few dozen blows” to the face, so that he was bleeding. He shouted in English that he was the wrong man, and only after that did the officers let him go. One of the police said to him in English, "Don’t get in trouble with the German Police!" He said he had lost his family during the Holocaust and was not afraid of the police.
On the next day, Melamed said to the chief of police: “Human mistakes can happen, but the punches were not mistakes, I was unable to move on the ground and could barely breathe.” A witness reported to General Anzeiger that the force used by police on the suit-wearing professor was “extremely brutal.” The witness, a former police officer from Bad Breisig, whose name is known to GA, said “That must have been extremely painful.” From a distance, however, he did not observe any police officers punching the professor.
The 50-year-old scientist said that when he went to the police station, they tried to talk him out of filing any complaints about the behavior of the responding officers. At another station, there was a “polite” police officer, who, looking at his injured face, asked whether that was a result of the alleged attacker. “No, it was the police,” he answered. The professor didn’t accuse the police of being anti-Semitic, his complaint was with how the police conducted the operation. He writes that American police are known for their extremely brutal actions. After this incident, he doubted that it was any better in Germany.
Bonn police chief Brohl-Sowa and the North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister personally apologized on Thursday morning to the professor. Brohl-Sowa acknowledged "a terrible and regrettable misunderstanding in the police response". According to official information from the police, the officers approached the professor from two sides because they mistook him for the offender. Before they reached the 50-year-old family man, they say they told him to stop. They say he did not comply. When the police took him down, they say he resisted. So the Bonn police said they had to hit him in the face. The eyewitness heard shouting before the incident but could not understand what was said. Police union representative Udo Schott told GA that the incident involved inexperienced police officers who recently completed their training.
Orig. text: Philipp Königs Translation: Carol Kloeppel