«Unidentified persons inflicted bodily injuries to Vasilyev». The story of a man from Nizhny Novgorod, whom the police officers accidentally chopped off two fingers, and the paramedic of the ambulance which they called who broke his three ribs and damaged his eye.
Photo: Nick Rains / Auscape / UIG / TASS
15 July 2016 52-year old worker of one of the plants in Nizhny Novgorod Sergey Vasilyev (the name of the victim was changed at his request) had a day-off. His wife went to work early, Sergey got bored and he drank a couple of shots of cold vodka. It was terribly hot outside.
By midday Vasilyev put on sweats and a t-shirt, put a beach towel in the plastic bag and went to sunbathe to Zemsnaryad lake, on the way he bought another half a liter of vodka and soon fell asleep. He woke up in the premise for administratively detained of the first police department in the neighboring street of Smirnov Hero.
The man returned to his wife only in the morning — with broken ribs, without two fingers and having lost eyesight in one eye.
In the cell and in the porch
Vasilyev says that he woke up nearly sober in the cell. Two other detained told him he was very drunk, that is why it was decided that he stayed at the department overnight. Vasilyev did not like such an option — knowing that the police officers can set a penalty for him and release him, he started banging against the door and shouting: “I want to explain, that I bought a bottle of vodka legally, did not use any drugs, did not violate any laws, my only crime amounts to public drinking, that is why it is possible to pay the penalty on the spot and go home to my wife”.
Duty officers Lobanov and Kuzyanin responded to his banging, they did not enter inside the cell and spoke with the detained through the half-opened door. “I’m telling them: “Let us sort out the problem in another way, why should I spend the night here?” Issue a receipt and I will pay it later, or let me call my wife, she will pay it immediately, and I will go home to continue my routine peaceful life”. But for some reason they were not happy with that, and told me to shut up”, — Vasilyev recalls.
Trying to convince the police officers, the man from Nizhny Novgorod was holding a massive metal door, and put another hand on the lintel. In a minute the door closed in a bang, and two phalanges of Vasilyev’s fingers fell on the floor. “I see two fingers missing, the phalanx of one finger is hanging on a piece of skin, I’m bleeding a lot and screaming. The men from the cell start to bang against the door, but the officers, evidently, having grown accustomed to that, ignored it”, — he says.
The police officers opened the door only after eight minutes. According to Mr Vasilyev, instead of putting a garrot on his hand to stop bleeding they just bandaged the injured hand. The bandage immediately got soaked in blood. Then the injured man was taken out to the porch to wait for the ambulance, since the hospital was in one and a half kilometers from the police department. According to the man, the police officers swept away the severed phalanges in the shovel and threw them away.
The ambulance arrived 10 minutes later. According to Mr Vasilyev, paramedic Basmanov, as well as the police officers, started to bandage his fingers, however, the bleeding did not stop, and then the paramedic saw the beach towel in the injured man’s plastic bag, and wound it round his hand. “Then he suggested that I go to hospital. And I’m in a terrible state — pain shock, and in general, well, severed fingers — and a thought comes to me, maybe a weird one, that they cut my fingers off, and if I leave now, no one would care about it, and I won’t be able to prove this to anyone. If they put me in the ambulance and throw me away somewhere round the corner, or if I return, and they will say that they picked me up like that on the way. Then I said that I won’t go anywhere without proper documenting of what happened at the police department. The paramedic responded: “To hell with you, then”. And he left”, — Vasilyev recalls.
The man remained to sit at the porch. Bleeding could not be stopped; the towel that soaked in blood had to be thrown away. At some moment Vasilyev felt that he was losing consciousness, but he managed to knock on the door of the police department. The police officers called the ambulance the second time. Sometime later the same paramedic Basmanov arrived. “He said: “Where is your towel? Why should I waste my bandages on you?” — “There it lies”. He takes this dirty towel and tries to wind it around my hand. I tell him: “Are you an idiot? You are going to contaminate my fingers with dirt, my whole hand will be amputated”. And after that he began to use curse words: “I’m sick and tired of you*****, I’m gonna beat you up, you******”. The police officers, about five of them, ran out to the porch, I’m sitting on it, and one of them starts to beat me up — at my head, body, etc. I started screaming: “What the hell is going on? Are you the police officers or what?” Then one of them told the other one to stop it. This paramedic ran away. I came to my senses at the hospital. That is how sunbathing and drinking vodka cost me two lost phalanges — although, had they not thrown them away, they might have been sown down, not to mention three broken ribs and damaged eye sight”, — he summarized. The phalange that remained hanging on a piece of skin, was sown down at the hospital.
“Within the limits of authority”
As early as on 16 July the internal checking based on the fact of Vasilyev’s injuries was initiated at the police department. It finished three days later: the materials were handed over to the investigative department for the Avtozavodsky District of Nizhny Novgorod. During the interrogation police officer Lobanov, who banged the door so inauspiciously, told that Vasilyev tried to push away his colleague Kuzyanin and go out of the cell into the corridor.
“At that time I was behind the cell door, and did not see what was happening, but only heard Vasilyev screaming and trying to get out. I saw Vasilyev’s hands that tried to push Kuzyanin. Then Kuzyanin attempted to get him back in the room, but Vasilyev was rendering active resistance. After that I, standing behind the door and realizing that Vasilyev is inside the cell, closed the door, since Vasilyev grew more aggressive and was about to inflict Kuzyanin physical pain and bodily injuries. When I was closing the door of the room, I was sure that Vasilyev was inside. When I closed the door, we heard Vasilyev’s loud shouting, we opened the door and saw blood on his right hand, as well as that he had no finger phalange”, — Lobanov explained.
According to the police officer, duty officer Malyshev promptly called for ambulance, which arrived at the police department in 20-30 minutes, and Lobanov and Kuzyanin went to their “person in charge and reported on what happened”. Malyshev claimed that no one pushed Vasilyev on the porch — it was medics who took him outside. “While medics were rendering medical assistance to him Vasilyev continued to behave aggressively, he tried beat up the doctor. Then Vasilyev refused from hospitalizing and the doctors went away, but in several minutes time Vasilyev felt bad again and he asked to call for an ambulance again. The arrived ambulance workers took Vasilyev to the hospital”, — the police officer told the investigator.
On 18 August, a month after the incident, the Investigative Committee investigator Denisov passed a ruling on initiating a criminal case under item “a” part 3 Article 118 of the Criminal Code (inflicting grave bodily injuries by negligence) with regard to Lobanov, who, according to the document, was “acting in the limits of his authority”. «[…] Having heard screams in the cell, [Lobanov] opened the door and asked what happened. Meanwhile the detained […] intentionally attempted to leave the premise of the cell, but met with resistance of police officer Kuzyanin. Then Lobanov and Kuzyanin, having made certain that no criminal activities were going in the cell, started to close the door of the cell, but Vasilyev continued to offer resistance. After that Lobanov closed the door of the cell, having inflicted bodily injuries to Vasilyev by negligence. […] Explanations of the police officers are consistent and not contradicting to the materials of the check”, — Denisov concluded.
“Was hitting with a head”
Vasilyev applied to the “Committee for the Prevention of Torture” and submitted a report about the incident. Lawyer of the organization Evgeny Chilikov explained that as a result of the check the materials were divided into two proceedings: the Investigative Committee became in charge of the police officers, and the Ministry of the Interior became in charge of the paramedic.
Soon the district police officer Chernikov questioned Vasilyev, however, the victim did not tell him about the Basmanov’s attack. “I was in a very depressed state, and I was more concerned about my fingers. I’m 53 and leading a normal life and all of a sudden this. That is why when he asked me where my bruises come from I told him I did not know — I remember that at the police department I came to my senses without any injuries, and the police officers themselves confirm that. Not that I did not remember the paramedic attacking me, but I did not attach significance to this somehow — there I was, bandaged all over, no fingers, eyes swollen, one of them does not see anything, ribs are broken. And I remember that I was beaten up, but by whom? He asked: did someone beat you up at the police department? I answer, no. Well, I answered impulsively, emotionally, my head was not yet working properly. And then the picture in my brain restored and I remembered about the paramedic”, — he explains. Further on, explains the lawyer, Vasilyev was ready to attend the interrogation once again, but the district officer limited himself to the first version of the evidence.
Paramedic Basmanov told them that when he arrived on call together with other members of the crew, he saw the man on the floor, “who had some blood on him”. This man “who was in state of strong alcoholic intoxication” and was “chaotically waving with his hands in the direction of paramedic and the police” declined the suggestion to go to the hospital”. In about half an hour the call to the ambulance to the same address arrived and Basmanov returned (at the same time in the evidence of the police officers themselves it was mentioned that the second time another medical aid team arrived at the police department). “Together with the police officer this man was made to sit in the ambulance vehicle. On the way the man continued to behave himself inadequately, was hitting with his head, hands and feet against the protruding objects, inflicting injuries to him. Later on from the hospital employees I learned that this man continued to behave aggressively [in the hospital], and then he ran to the café, but sometime later he once again applied for medical assistance”, — the paramedic’s evidence stated.
In the course of the check district officer Chernikov requested that forensic medical expert review using the duplicate of Vasilyev’s medical card from hospital No.35 is conducted. As the document states, the man applied to the ophthalmologist four days after the incident. The doctor diagnosed him with the right eye contusion, sclera breakage and erosion of the right eye keratoderma. At the time of this application the sharpness of his left eye was 1.0 (normal eyesight), and the right one — 0.1 (sees only the top line in Sivtsev or Golovin table). Improvement followed only a month later — then the sharpness of the right eye sight restored to 0.2, and a few months later — to 0.4 and did not improve after that.
Having scrutinized the hospital documentation the expert came to conclusion that Vasilyev’s right eye injury may have emerged shortly before applying to the doctor due to “hitting against the protruding hard object under the conditions indicated in the resolution”. However, the expert did not give the assessment of graveness of the damage inflicted to the man’s health, having specified that in order to do that it is necessary to wait until the completion of the treatment. Based on the results of this expert review and Basmanov’s evidence the district officer held that “no element of any crime was revealed in this material”. On 19 December he passed a ruling refusing to initiate criminal proceedings under Article 115 of the Criminal Code (inflicting light damage to health) “due to absence of element of crime”.
Unidentified police officers
Mr Chilikov was going to appeal against the refusal of the district officer to initiate criminal proceedings when suddenly a representative of the Prosecutor’s Office started to read out the resolution on quashing this ruling of the police officer. In the document dated April 2017, the Prosecutor pointed out the faults of the investigation. Thus, according to him, the district police officer did not identify and question the police officers who transported Vasilyev to the police department; did not question the other medics from the ambulance team who went on this call, did not claim the ambulance call journal. Now the district officer is conducting additional check.
In December the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case under part 1 Article 112 of the Criminal Code (intentional inflicting moderately severe damage to health). According to the resolution, it was caused not by the claim of Vasilyev himself, but by the investigator’s report and “presence of sufficient grounds indicating at the elements of crime” — i.e. there are the results of medical forensic expert review which registered fingers amputation, three fractured ribs and eye injury.
The document states that on 15 July 2016 in the premises for the detained persons of police department No.1 “some unidentified persons inflicted bodily injuries to Vasilyev”. However, since that time he was not called for any investigative activity. “The case is initiated with regard to some unidentified persons, despite the fact that it was clear who was involved in the incident in the result of which he lost his fingers. This was done just following the instruction — in such cases a case should be opened. Just as when we have a dead body, then the criminal case should be automatically opened. I.e. formally they followed the instruction, but with regard to whom — with regard to nobody. And most likely in the course of time this case will be simply dismissed, it’s just a formality”, — Mr Chilikov says.
Now, according to the lawyer, “The Committee for the Prevention of Torture” is trying to open the case with regard to the paramedic who assaulted Vasilyev. “What happened inside the police department is indeed an accident, plus maybe the police officers acted not quite adequately, not quite following the instruction. But we will continue the investigation after the episode with the medic, after the meeting with whom Vasilyev’s eyesight failed in one eye, and three ribs became broken — since everyone confirmed that he entered the cell without any injuries. I think that in this case applying force by medics amounts to inadequate applying force by the police officers, in this case a medic is just another agent of the state, and in the similar way he did not have a right to applying force and should have provided assistance”, — Chilikov says.
According to Vasilyev, a few weeks after the incident a head of the Patrol-Guard Service unit came to his place and apologized for his subordinates’ actions. He insisted that everything that happened at the police department was an accident. “I’m not insisting that it was done intentionally. But in my opinion it is a complete mess. If you call an elevator you first need to ensure that the cabin arrived before you step in it. If I operate a vehicle of extra high hazard I need to comply with the norms of its operation. If I’m in the execution of official duty I also need to take responsibility, right? Because if you close the door you have to make sure there is nothing there. And if it was my head? No death inflicted means no one would be punished. The head would be a real thing, and fingers it’s just a trifle”, — the victim says indignantly.