Bonn A video shows how SWB ticket controllers at the Bonn Stadthaus hold down a man lying on the ground. A Tweet alleges that the ticket inspectors are "Racial Profiling". Stadtwerke public utilities and police have responded.
A man lies on his side on the ground and cries out. Another man kneels behind him, holding his arms, a third his legs. The video, which is currently circulating on the internet, shows how ticket inspectors of the Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB) detain a fare evader. It was apparently filmed on Thursday afternoon by a passer-by at the bus stop at the Bonn Stadthaus. She then published it on Twitter. According to the police, the video is authentic, but the beginning and end were missing.
What happened? According to SWB and the police, the man in the video had been checked by SWB ticket inspectors on a tram of line 62 in Bonn city center and had not been able to produce a ticket. "Since he refused to show any identification, the inspectors got off the tram with him, where he sat down on a bench at the stop," says SWB spokesman Michael Henseler.
It is unclear whether he did not understand what was being asked of him because of the language barrier - he spoke no German and little English. He had still not shown his identification card, which is why the inspectors informed him that they would now call the police.
Police spokesman Simon Rott said that according to the ticket inspectors, bystanders had shouted to the man to run away. Henseler even reports that it was the woman filming the video that encouraged the man to run away as he was (in her opinion) not allowed to be detained. As of now, it seems indisputable that the man was then encouraged to run away. When he tried to run away, he was stopped by the SWB inspectors and held on the ground until the police arrived.
"When our officers arrived, the situation quickly calmed down," says police spokesman Rott. A complaint was filed on suspicion of riding on public transport without a valid ticket, and the man's personal details were forwarded to SWB. The man was then released. He did not complain or file a complaint against the inspectors.
"There are no indications of bodily harm. What the inspectors did is in accordance with Jedermannsrecht (The Right of Everyone),” explains Rott. The Bonn police could "not see any unjustified use of force" in the incident. In his opinion, the case had nothing to do with "racial profiling" - the man is dark-skinned: "It does not matter who it is traveling without a ticket.” SWB spokesman Henseler also emphasizes: "We can say with a clear conscience that all the given rules were adhered to". Like any other fare dodger, the man had to pay 60 euros.
Paragraph §127 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) basically allows anyone to detain a person if he or she "is in the act of committing an offense and being pursued, is suspected of trying to flee or his or her identity cannot be established immediately,” Sebastian Buß, spokesman for the Bonn Regional Court, explains the general legal situation. This also applies to ticket inspectors. However, they are not allowed to search anyone, this is reserved for the state authorities. If someone refuses to establish their identity, the police are called in to establish their identity. "If you hold someone, it must be reasonable", says Buß. Pressing a person to the ground, for example, is not justified if he or she does not try to run away.
"This is always a case-by-case decision, which is necessary to bridge the time to establish identity," Buß says, adding that it is not a criminal offense to run away from ticket inspectors or even the police. "This only becomes a problem if you use physical force to block yourself, for example by hitting or spitting around you," says Buß. In the case of a police check, this would then be resistance to enforcement officers. And even if you get caught despite fleeing, this can have consequences in later court hearings. "It's all about the sentencing," says Sebastian Buß.
Orig. text: Anna Maria Beekes, Nicolas Ottersbach