Human rights defenders established the legality of the police officers’ actions with regard to the young man with a mental disorder


15 February 2019
Pavel Valsilyev and Tatyana Vasilyeva

Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, conducting a public investigation regarding the fact of apprehension of Pavel Vasilyev from Moscow in June of last year, came to conclusion that the Moscow police officers were acting in a lawful manner and applied force and special equipment – handcuffs – against him with a good reason.

As we have previously reported, the Vasilyev family applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. Tatyana and her son Pavel told how on 27 May 2018 Pavel was detained in the street by the police officers and was held handcuffed at the police department for over three hours, after which he was handed over to the psychiatric team.

That is how Tatyana Vasilyeva described this incident on her page: “On Sunday, May 27, my son, autist, disabled since childhood, was apprehended by police officers of the Metrogorodok District Department of the Interior for Moscow city in the street while he was bicycling. His apprehension was caused by his loud shouting in the street. My son’s hands were tied behind his back; he was pushed into car and brought to police department. Evgeny Viktorovich Apokin was a duty officer at that time. There my son was kept for three hours handcuffed behind bars”.

Pavel Vasilyev is 22, and since childhood he has been suffering from mental disorder, as a consequence of which he was declared disable. According to his mother, Tatyana Vasilyeva, due to the disorder cannot always adequately evaluate some situations and respond to them. For various reasons he may start shout loudly, expressing his emotions.

On a Sunday afternoon of 27 May 2018, Pavel was riding a bicycle in Metrogorodok district of Moscow. According to the witnesses, Pavel “started to shout in his mobile phone, he shouted terribly. The passers-by avoided him, his behavior was abnormal, and no-one would stop near him. Then he tore apart his t-shirt, started to hit himself on the chest with a mobile phone He started shouting in the direction of the traffic way, at the public transport stop. No one was there around him. He started to shout in the direction of the accommodation building, he was shouting terribly. Apparently, someone called for the police”.

According to Pavel, a police vehicle came by, two police officers went out from it.

– The police officers did not introduce themselves or showed their IDs, instead they started to insult me using obscene language, – Vasilyev described.

Both police officers applied physical force against Pavel, put his hands behind his back and handcuffed him.

The witnesses say that the “police officers clearly saw that they were dealing with a sick person. When they handcuffed him and brought him in their vehicle, he started to shout even more loudly”.

Pavel was taken to the Department of the Interior of Russia for Metrogorodok district of Moscow. Later on, the police officers called for a psychiatric team there. For the three hours when Pavel was at the department, his hands were handcuffed behind his back: “Because my hands were attached with handcuffs, I was in pain, my shoulder muscles also hurt because my hands and wrists were positioned uncomfortably position due to fixation with handcuffs”.

That is how Vasilyev describes the actions of the psychiatric team: “One of the nurses held my throat with his right hand and bent me backwards; he was strangling me, saying that “my head should be chopped off”, that I should be “taken to the loony asylum”. They used obscene language talking about me, were holding me by my shoulders and tying me hands behind my back with belts in the area of wrists and elbows. I did not offer resistance. My feet in the area of my ankles were also attached. Having attached the belts on me, the nurses led me to the exit from the police department. I was walking slowly, it was hard to walk since my feet were tied with belts. I could not get in the ambulance on my own, both nurses told me to “move my ass”, and one of them hit me with his ankle in the area of my tailbone”.

According to Pavel, there was no psychiatrist doctor in the arrived team, and the two nurses were acting on their own. Vasilyev was taken to Psychiatric Clinical Hospital # 4 named after Gannushkin, where he stayed till 29 May.

After the release, Pavel registered his injuries with a traumatologist-orthopedist: “Bruises of soft tissues of forearms, elbow joints areas up to 3.0х2.0 cm, as well as in the area of ankle joints along the front surface up to 7.0х5.0 cm”.

In the course of the public investigation, human rights defenders questioned the witnesses of Pavel’s apprehension. For example, two saleswomen told that the arrived police officers were behaving reasonably, but were forced to apply handcuffs due to inadequate behavior of Pavel – he was waving with his bicycle, tried to offer resistance.
According to the material of the pre-investigative check, the passers-by, who were scared of Pavel’s actions, called for police twice: at 12:14 and at 12:17. Law-enforcement officers arrived within several minutes. Their version of events is completely consistent with the evidence of the witnesses of the apprehension: according to the police officers, at first they tried to calm Pavel down and asked him to stop shouting and disturb the public order, however, he refused and started to aim a blow at the officers with his bicycle, after which they decided to apply handcuffs against him and take him to police department. Later on they drew up a report on that.

In the course of the public investigation it was also established that since the moment of apprehension till the arrival of the medical team to the police department Pavel spent about fifty minutes in handcuffs, instead of three hours, as Tatyana Vasilyeva previously claimed. This is confirmed by the time when the police was called to the place of the incident and the map of the emergency ambulance call to the police department, where the time of the arrival is indicated.

“According to the video record, available in the materials of the check, as well as to the report on the second video, which was not preserved and we did not personally see it, at the police department Pavel continued to behave inadequately: shouted something inarticulate at the officers and his mother, did not respond to pleas to calm down, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Petr Khromov comments. – It can be seen that at that time Pavel’s T-shirt is already completely torn and is hanging behind as a rag. At the same time, Pavel’s mother, Tatyana, is demanding that the handcuffs are removed from him, claiming that then he would stop shouting, to which the police officers tell her that without handcuffs Pavel behaves in an even more disorderly manner”.

Psychiatric ambulance medics, who were called by the police officers, examined Pavel at the police department without handcuffs already. However, since it took place at the separate room, video records from which were not preserved, it does not appear possible to either confirm or disprove Vasilyev’s words that violence was applied to him in the form of strangulation by medics.

However, human rights defenders established that physical force and special equipment – soft ropes – were indeed applied to Pavel. And not only to his hands, as it is indicated in medical documents, but also to his feet, as Vasilyev mother and son claimed. This, in particular, is confirmed by localization of Pavel’s bodily injuries. Admittedly, hematomas on Pavel’s hands and feet developed due to soft ropes applied to him (and, possibly, due to injection in the area of elbow bend).

“According to law “On psychiatric assistance and guarantee of the citizens’ rights during its rendering”, the medics had a right to apply soft ropes to Pavel. The only claim against the medics is that they did not reflect this fact in their documentation, indicating that they tied up only hands, however, the feet were also tied up in the knees area”, – Khromov emphasizes.

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