A police officer who was filmed giving an immobilised suspect a hefty kick in the head during an intervention in Molenbeek in Brussels has had a four-month suspension lifted by the Council of State.
The incident took place at the end of May in the Rue du Presbytère in the Brussels-West police zone. In the video filmed by a resident from an upstairs window can be seen how one officer has the 19-year-old man pinned to the ground and unable to move. His colleague arrives in a car and immediately kicks the arrested youth in the head. He then strikes him twice with his hand before two more police officers arrive on the scene.
The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation, and the officer concerned was identified and questioned. Police authorities then announced he had been suspended from duty for four months on 80% basic pay.
In the meantime, the suspect in the incident was handed over to police in the Brussels City-Ixelles zone, where he filed a complaint. It is now understood that he was being pursued in connection with a theft in Ixelles, but his involvement in that matter is no longer being investigated.
“This intervention is unacceptable,” commented Molenbeek mayor Cathérine Moureaux at the time. “Nothing can justify those actions.” The mayor herself had shared the video on social media.
The police officer concerned, who has not been identified, complained to the Council of State at the length of his suspension, claiming he had suffered damage to his image thanks to the media attention the case had received. The court has now confirmed his complaint.
“The man was interviewed by the police authority, but they did not inform him of the severity of the sanction,” Erik Brewaeys, spokesperson for the Council of State, told Bruzz. “He therefore did not have enough chance to defend himself. Given that he had suffered damage to his image, as well as a substantial loss of pay, the four-month suspension was considered too long.”
The man will now be free to return to work from Monday, when the police authority will reconsider the disciplinary case against him. In the meantime, the criminal action against him continues. If found guilty of assault, he faces up to two years in prison.