vrijdag 10 februari 2017

The man with the sword

Today I’m in service with my convivial colleague Kees. We weren’t much together, so I was looking forward to it.
Within an hour after departure from the police station we got the notification of an armed man threatening the staff of the RET in an underground station. According to our information, he would be carrying a knife, probably more than one.

When we arrived at the station, we both took our baton with us and hurried to get upstairs. There was a coloured man with dark sunglasses sitting with his back against a glass wall. In both fists he vastly kept some sort of wedge of steal or awl. Next to him there was a backpack carrying an umbrella in a trash bag. That was wat we thought for that moment anyway.

I ordered him to drop the weapons and to show his hands, but that he refused. As a reaction, I hit his hands with my baton, which had no effect. I took my pepper spray and spurted into his face. Because of the sunglasses, I could not see whether there was any effect.
Suddenly the suspect arose, turned around and quickly took the ‘umbrella’. He turned to us and pulled out towards Kees. The umbrella turned out to be a wooden sword. He tried to hit Kees on his head, but he could field the strike with his arm. This resulted in a hefty wound. We used our baton and once more our pepper spray to turn down the suspect.

What was happening during our struggle to disarm the man cannot be described with any words. Because the underground had been stopped by the RET, all the passengers were heaping together. I think there were approximately hundred people on the platform. Many of them had not seen that the suspect was trying to strike down somebody of the RET or one of us, and neither that the suspect with a wooden sword almost cut of the lower arm of Kees. What they had seen was all the force we used towards the suspect.

Next, the suspect was being supported by the crowd to defend himself, and we were getting accused of being assaulters and killers. It was truly frightening. Fortunately, there were many colleagues of the RET present at the station keeping away the crowd so that we could master the suspect. Otherwise we could probably have been lynched by the angry mass. We had no way to get out and could not get anywhere. Kees and I had already intended to get away via the rail to the next station if the crowd broke through the line of staff of the RET.

There have been a few moments in my career, and in the career of Kees, that I have felt afraid. This is one of them. For a moment we experienced being in some anarchistic, lawless country in which only counts the law of the fittest, instead of being in the relatively safe Netherlands. What we did not know was that the emergency room of the police had been looking with us. They had quickly sent colleagues towards us. It was a moment of great relief when we heard the colleagues coming upstairs and delivering us from our precarious situation.

Actually, the assistance was present after three minutes already, but in my experience it was like eternity. Kees had quite a bruise in his arm, but was not lastingly injured. We drove back to the police station. ‘We got of well, Kees’, I said unto him. Kees was visibly affected by the incident, normally he is quite talkative, but than remarkably quiet.

The suspect was later on not judged, but was held not accountable for the incident. In court his story was neither here nor there, and besides he offended the judge and the public prosecutor several times by interrupting them. In his bag were still knifes and he was convinced to injure us one time. Our reality was not the reality of the spectators. Unfortunately, this is mostly hard to explain.

translated by Quintijn Aman

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