High quality work of the Investigative Committee confirmed the innocence of the police officers


22 September 2016

Investigators of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the RF for the Orenburg region performed a thorough and objective investigation of a criminal case based on the fact of Vitaliy Popov’s numerous injuries which he received during his stay at the police department No 1 of Orenburg. The conclusions of the official investigation and the public investigation conducted by the human rights defenders with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture were identical: no one beat the man up at the police department, his injuries were caused by falling from the wall when attempting to escape from the police department.

(Photo: Vitaly Popov)

The background of the case is as follows. On 1 September 2015 Vitaliy Popov from Orenburg was transported from Police Department No.1 to the Municipal Clinical Hospital named after Pirogov in a critical condition. Doctors diagnosed Mr Popov with a craniocerebral injury, severe brain contusion, multiple skull and facial bones fractures, as well as fracture of an arm. The man was lucky to survive, having emerged from coma five days after his hospitalization. On 14 September Victor’s wife Lidiya Popova applied to the Committee for Prevention of Torture for legal assistance. Human rights defenders initiated a public investigation based on her application.

As it has been revealed, on the night of 1 September 2015 Vitaliy Popov, having paid a visit to his mother, was going home, where his wife and a son were waiting for him. In the street Patrol-Guard Service officers stopped him to check his ID. Vitaliy reported his ID data, the police officers transmitted the information via walky-talky and received an order to take the man to the police department since he was in the federal wanted list with regard to failure to perform the verdict of the Gatchinskiy Municipal Court of the Leningrad region. In fact, previously Vitaliy used to live in Gatchina with his first wife, their family relationships went wrong, and his wife filed for divorce and alimony. In 2007 the Gatchinsky City Court sentenced Vitaliy to one year of correctional labor for non-support. Vitaliy admits that by that moment he had a new family and carelessly forgot about the verdict, and in 2008 he and his family moved to Orenburg, his small motherland. In 2010 Vitaliy fulfilled all the alimony obligations and thought this issue was resolved.

However, on 1 September 2015 after he was taken to the police department Vitaliy learned that in 2008 the Gatchinskiy City Court changed his punishment from correctional labor to 4 months of prison term in a penal colony settlement.

According to Vitaliy, he spent about an hour in the police department. When he saw other detained go in the courtyard for a smoke he asked the police officer if he could also go out to have a cigarette. That is how Vitaliy recalls his last minutes of being conscious: «In the courtyard I walked back and forth and had a smoke. I was haunted by the thoughts on what would happen when I get back home. When I finished smoking, I threw the cigarette butt in the trash bin and remained outside, standing with my back to the entrance door, 2-3 m from it. I heard steps near the entrance door, then I felt buzzing in my ears and my vision darkened».

Vitaliy recovered his senses later at hospital.

After Vitaliy’s wife Liliya applied to the Committee for Prevention of Torture for legal assistance human rights defenders helped her to draw up a crime report, which was sent to the Investigative Committee.

For a long time the investigative authorities did not do anything with regard to the Popov family application, until human rights defenders turned to the management of the regional investigative department asking to transfer the case to the major cases department. The Committee’s lawyers application was satisfied and major cases investigator Nikolay Chernov got down to business: in the course of the conducted investigation the eye witnesses of this incident were established and a number of investigative activities were carried out, which showed that no one applied violence against Vitaly Popov. 

Lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Albina Mudarisova comments: «This was a complicated case for investigation, since Vitaly Popov did not remember what exactly happened to him. In the course of the public investigation we established an impartial witness who reported that when he was in the investigator’s office room, he heard a loud sound of something very heavy falling from some height, and when he and a police officer came down to see what had happened, they saw a woman in the corridor shouting that someone fell. This woman pointed at the door leading to the courtyard. Later on the witness confirmed the evidence which he had provided before in the course of the official inquiry».

Mudarisova pointed out that an additional situational expert examination allowed to fully restore the picture of the incident. As we have previously reported, the results of the first expert examination excluded the possibility of injuries as a result of the victim falling from the height exceeding his own. This conclusion was made based on the evidence of one of the police officers who saw only Popov’s attempts to climb up the wall. Apparently, the detained attempted to flee from the police department. After the police officer on duty, who witnessed Popov’s falling, was questioned by the investigative authorities,  an additional situational expert examination was assigned, on the basis of which the expert made a conclusion that Popov’s bodily injuries may have been inflicted as a result of the circumstances described by the police officer on duty – i.e., falling from the wall. According to Mudarisova, in the case there are also some more proofs of the fact that no one beat up Popov in the police department.

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