Cyclist spat on by Brussels driver prompts internal police investigation
Thursday, 05 November 2020
An incident in which a Flemish cyclist was spat on by a driver in Brussels has led to a judicial and internal investigation after the treatment of the case has been called into question.
Tina (28) and Romi (25) were cycling through a back street of Brussels when they heard the roar of an engine behind them. “We certainly didn’t drive recklessly or in the way of cars,” the pair explained.
Startled, one of the women shouted to the car: “What the f***, act normal,” prompting the person in the car to begin cursing and insulting the pair.
“I was angry, yes. During the discussion, some of my saliva flew at him. Really by accident,” said Tina. “He took it as if I had spit on him on purpose. So he got out, grabbed me, pushed my head against the car. Luckily I was wearing a helmet. Still, he managed to pull out some hair,” she added.
After Tina attempted to pull herself from the man’s grip, he reportedly spat in her face twice. “It was really a fountain, I was totally covered in saliva,” added Romi.
Nobody spoke Dutch
After deciding to report the incident to the police, the women waited for officers to arrive, only to discover that none of them spoke Dutch. “While we wanted to file our complaint in our mother tongue.”
A second patrol was called, who did speak Dutch, and took the women to the police station while the driver and passenger came in their own car.
Despite being told they would be able to speak Dutch at the station, the women report once again being placed with someone who only spoke French. They also say they were put in the same room as the two men at this time.
“During the interrogation, they suddenly reversed the roles. If we filed a complaint against them, they would do the same against us,” the women said.
Tina also had to have fingerprints and photos taken, as if she was a suspect herself. In the end, no official report was drawn up. “I am extremely disappointed in the system. One thing I know for sure: I will never call the police again when I’m in danger,” said Romi.
The police zone regrets the situation, and admitted that the language problem within the Brussels police forces is not new, reports TVL.
“The incident itself is being investigated at a judicial level,” said the chief of the Brussels-South police zone, Jurgen De Landsheer. “Locally, we are also looking at what went wrong and if we should have worked differently. That is certainly the case, otherwise there would not be commotion like this. We want to prevent this from happening again.”
The police have been in contact with the women again, and invited them for a conversation. “We are going to try to make it right,” said De Landsheer. “If everything happened exactly like it was described, then this is unacceptable.”
In the interest of the judicial investigation opened by the Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Office, further details about the incident are not being communicated for the time being.