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HFHR responds to deadly police intervention

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has expressed its concerns over the death of Damian G. The man died in a Radom hospital where he was brought after being arrested by police officers.
Death in police custody
Damian died in hospital in the late evening on 8 September 2017 or at the early morning of the next day, the Foundation has learnt from the family. Damian’s father, Krzysztof, told us his son had been arrested by the Radom Police Department at a Biedronka chain store on suspicion of theft.

According to witnesses, Damian has been carried away from the store, without shoes, he was unable to walk on his own and shuffled his feet. He was later taken to a police station. From there, he was brought to the emergency department of a Radom hospital, where he died on the same day. The father claims that a nurse who oversaw Damian’s admission heard as one of the officers took a phone call and said: “I had to do it, but he’s alive”.

Damian’s family suspect that the Radom Police Department officers who made the arrest abused their powers. An investigation has been launched in this case by a prosecutor’s office.

State officials responsible for lives of arrestees
The HFHR intervened with the District Prosecutor’s Office in Zwoleń, referring to Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which establishes the right to life. In its intervention later, the Foundation emphasises whenever an arrestee dies, the state is obliged to prove that officers of the state are not responsible for the fatal incident. “Each case of a fatality in police custody must be thoroughly investigated”, says Piotr Kubaszewski, the coordinator of the HFHR’s Legal Intervention Programme. “According to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, criminal proceedings in cases of a loss of life must be effective, which means that they must be conducted in a way that enables determination of facts and, if a need arises, prosecution and punishment of persons guilty of any illegal conduct”, adds the lawyer.

The HFHR has been dealing with cases of unreasonable police violence during interventions and arrests. Such cases include the tragic death of Igor Stachowiak, a teenager’s death in police holding cell and the case of an Austrian national who died after being brought to a police station.

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