Malta: Police Brutality

A Maltese police sergeant has been caught on camera violently kicking an elderly French lady in the upper torso and neck, knocking her senseless for more than three minutes.
The grim four-minute video clip, from which these stills were lifted, was taken from the balcony of an apartment in St George?s Road, St Julian?s, on Thursday 17 May in the middle of the afternoon. The footage was subsequently passed on to MaltaToday on strict condition of confidentiality. The video-clip opens abruptly with the close-up of a heated argument between the female driver (aged approximately 70) of a French-registered Nissan, and a somewhat heavily built police sergeant, estimated to be in his mid-forties. From the outset, the elderly lady appears agitated because the police sergeant had planted himself in the way of her shutting her car door. For his part, the sergeant is seen talking on his mobile phone and ignoring the lady?s repeated attempts to move him out of the way.
Investigations carried out by this newspaper later revealed that the lady had attracted police attention by hooting repeatedly at a coach which had blocked the road for several minutes. It also transpired that she did not speak English fluently, and insisted on speaking to the policeman in French. However, it is not at all clear from the video why the police sergeant reacted with such brutal force to the lady?s feeble attempts to move him out of the way: an act of aggression which is doubly anomalous, when you consider the age and gender of the victim.
Just a few seconds into the video, the police sergeant is seen angrily reacting to the lady?s attempts to grapple with him by lifting his knee into her chest as she tries to push him out of the way (pics 1-3). However, this first act of violence has no immediate effect, other than further aggravate the situation. It is after the lady?s second attempt to oust the police sergeant from his position - which involves grasping him by his trouser pockets - that the policeman suddenly reacts by violently kneeing the lady in her upper torso and neck, and in the same movement forcefully pushing her away with his left arm (pics 6-12)
The victim is visibly stunned by the force of the blow, and after teetering for about one second she slumps bodily onto the passenger seat, where she remains perfectly motionless for at least three minutes? possibly more, but gaps in the footage make the precise duration difficult to estimate exactly.
Meanwhile, the visibly unperturbed police sergeant, who makes no discernible attempt to ascertain the condition of the woman he himself had just struck senseless, turns around and waves over to someone, gesticulating for the need to make a phone-call.
The camera now focuses on the supine woman, who appears to be completely unconscious. Only an imperceptible movement of her right arm at this point suggests she has not passed out altogether.
When the camera moves back to the sergeant he is now seen in the company of another policeman. Unlike his colleague, who still appears completely unfazed, this second policeman is visibly concerned about the condition of the lady, who is still sprawled motionless across the front seats.
At this point the camera pans out to take in more of the surroundings. It is now clear that we are in St George?s Street, at the junction with the pedestrian alleyway leading up to the centre of Paceville. A number of onlookers, who look like tourists, have gathered to watch. Back in the car, the lady is still out for the count, almost two minutes after the assault.
After a brief blank space lasting around 12 seconds ? which we later learnt was edited out by the person filming, in order to remove the faces of other people who were also on the balcony observing the scene ? the footage returns, this time revealing the traffic that has accumulated at the bottom of St George?s Street. Among the vehicles evidently held up by the incident is an empty police car, with the driver?s door open.
One shorter blank space later, and the focus is once again on the elderly lady, who has now regained consciousness and is sitting in the driver?s seat, although leaning out of the open car door and still visibly in a state of shock (pics 16-17).
At one point she is clearly seen clutching her forehead and reeling from evident dizziness. She also seems to be talking, although in her current confused state it is not clear if she is addressing the police sergeant, herself or no one in particular.
The police sergeant now tries to communicate with her for the first time since knocking her out cold more than three minutes earlier, and even extends a hand in her direction (still holding his mobile). But it is clear from the lady?s expressive reaction that she has no intention of allowing the police sergeant within striking distance again.
This is the point where the camera suddenly wheels away, to reveal that an ambulance has just arrived. Two nurses emerge, and are briefly involved in an exchange with the lady. Judging by the impromptu ?sign language? employed by one of the ambulance staff, it is clear that the communications barrier has not been overcome.
Meanwhile, it is only now that the police sergeant appears in any way concerned or contrite, and is seen pointing towards the ambulance in a clear attempt to persuade the lady to get on board.
But from this newspaper?s investigations, it is clear that neither of the nurses to arrive with the ambulance actually knew about the blow the lady had received to her torso and neck a few minutes earlier. On the contrary, sources have informed this newspaper that the lady?s condition was described to them as one of ?hysterics?, without any mention of the violent assault which had left her senseless just minutes before.
There are at this point some split-second gaps in the footage and it is unclear how long this part of proceedings actually took. But one of the ambulance staff is repeatedly seen pointing to the side of the road, in what appears to be a suggestion for the lady to pull over so that she could leave her car and board the ambulance. After a few seconds trying to start the engine ? in which the lady is visibly still shaken by the ordeal, but also reluctant to be accompanied to hospital ? she slowly moves forward and parks her car right under the balcony from where the film was being taken. But she does not get out of the car, and the ambulance is seen driving off in the direction of the Regional Road. The video ends with the car still parked by the kerb, the lady still inside, and the police sergeant nowhere to be seen.
Efforts to identify the victim of this assault have so far proved inconclusive. Contacted by MaltaToday, the French Embassy claimed no knowledge of the incident.