Authorities in Germany are investigating the “violent tactics” used by Berlin police to subdue an allegedly “deranged,” weapon-wielding man over the weekend. The police allegedly shot the man in the leg, before pepper spraying him, kicking him in the neck and setting a dog loose on him, German website The Local reports.
According to the German newspaper Bild, a 50-year-old man referred to only as Andre C. was seen walking around on Saturday afternoon holding two knives. He is said to have also been carrying an axe in his waistband.
Terrified residents reportedly called the police, and officers soon arrived at the scene, Bild adds.
The Local notes that the situation quickly escalated when Andre “moved to attack the officers after they called on him to drop his weapons.” An eyewitness says one of the police officers fired several warning shots into the air, before the man — described as “deranged” by the news website — was shot in the leg.
Bleeding and crouching on the ground, Andre still would not let go of one of his knives, according to reports.
According to German newspaper B.Z., it was then that the alleged police brutality began. The officers are said to have used pepper spray on the injured man, before hitting him in the arm with a baton and kicking him at the back of the neck. One officer also allegedly let a police dog bite the man in the head.
Part of the incident was captured on film by an eyewitness. The clip has since been uploaded onto YouTube.
Andre had to undergo emergency surgery due to the injuries he sustained during the attack, according to a police press release. He was in stable condition as of Monday.
A number of eyewitnesses have condemned what they say was an excessive use of force by police. “The man looked defenseless, the police response was very brutal,” an eyewitness told Bild.
Andre’s nephew Martin K. told B.Z.: “My uncle was already lying on the ground seriously injured,” adding that his family did not know what had made Andre go “crazy” on Saturday. He noted, however, that while his uncle is a “very nice person,” he tends to drink “a bit too much.”
As state criminal investigators conduct a routine investigation to determine whether the violent tactics used by the officers were appropriate, police unions have come forward to defend the officers’ actions.
“If the police fire warning shots and the man still won’t lay down his weapon, then violence may be used as a last resort,” said Michael Purper, a spokesman of the Berlin police union GdP.
Former police officer and author Stefan Schubert told Bild that he encountered similar situations when he was an officer.
“The use of a dog, as can be clearly seen in this video, is surely a last resort,” he said, adding that “the mentally ill or drug addicts are often resistant to pepper spray or other means of force.”