Resident of Nizhny Novgorod who was beaten up in a police van is charged with three years of penal colony for applying violence against a police officer


23 September 2021

On 21 September, the Nizhny Novgorod District Court Prosecutor requested that Roman Gusev from Nizhny Novgorod is sentenced to three years of maximum security penal colony for applying violence against a police officer. Аfter a conflict in the police van, the affected police officer developed an extravasation, and Gusev was registered with numerous fractures of the face and ribs, missing teeth and eye-sight deterioration. The Investigative Committee dismissed Gusev’s claim to open a criminal case against a police officer.

On 15 June 2021, Roman Gusev from Nizhny Novgorod applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. He told human rights defenders that, on 19 April, he was apprehended by the police officers for an attempt to steal a bottle of whisky. In the police van, where the police officers were drawing up a petty theft protocol, a conflict between Gusev and police officer Aleksandr Merkulov developed. According to Gusev, the police officer seized him by his leg to force him out of the car. Gusev claims that after that he waved in Merkulov’s direction to “stop him breaking my leg”.

According to Roman, after that he was beaten up till he lost consciousness: “Merkulov hit me with his right knee in the face, and at that moment I heard my bones crackling. My nose and mouth started bleeding”. After that, according to Gusev, he was taken to police department No.5. While in the cell, Roman developed hematomas and swells on his face, as a result of which he could not even open his eyes, and his nose was bleeding. An officer on duty called him an ambulance.

Gusev was hospitalized, he was diagnosed with fractures of facial bones and ribs, loss of three teeth and open craniocerebral wound.Five months later, Roman still feels pain in the jaw and complains of eye-sight deterioration. The doctors emphasize Gusev’s “post-traumatic deformation of the facial skeleton” and insist on repeated hospitalization and a jaw surgery.

After release from hospital, Gusev applied to the Investigative Committee with a complaint about having been beaten up by Merkulov. Forensic medical examination established severe damage inflicted to Gusev’s health, but the Investigative Committee did not find any element of crime in the police officer’s actions and dismissed the claims to open a criminal case twice.

The police officer himself claims that Gusev hit him in the jaw which resulted in his “hemorrhage in the mucous membrane of the upper lip, extravasation of the face”. According to him, the resident of Nizhny Novgorod used obscene language with regard to the police officers, was waving his arms and legs, and threatened with violence. Merkulov claims that he attempted to apply a combat technique inside the vehicle, Gusev offered resistance and fell with his face on the ground, and the police officer, allegedly, lost the balance and fell on top of him.

Merkulov developed a report on applying violence against a police officer, in which he claimed that Gusev hit him in the face. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under Article 318 of the Criminal Code (applying violence against an authority representative). For 26 days, the investigative authorities affirmed the indictment and submitted the case to the court.

In the materials of the criminal case, initiated against Gusev, there is a video from the surveillance cameras, where his conflict with the police officers is partially covered: the video features Gusev being pulled by the leg, and Roman is waving off with his hand, after that, police officer Merkulov closes the door and the police van starts shaking.  Later on, the police officers come out of it together with Gusev, who is spitting blood. It is not known for certain what was going on in the van, as, from their side, the police officers did not provide the video records. According to the police officers, it was at that moment when the video recorders, worn on the chest, de-energized, and the cameras in the police van were off.

At the present time, Roman Gusev is under trial by the Nizhny Novgorod District Court under Article 318 of the Criminal Code. The Prosecutor requested that the resident of Nizhny Novgorod is sentenced to three years of prison term in a maximum security penal colony.

Lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Kristina Diogidze comments the case in the following way: “In this case, it is necessary to perform forensic medical examination and establish, according to whose theory such injuries might have developed – Merkulov’s or Gusev’s. Of course, the investigative authorities have assigned the examination, but they provided only the police officer’s theory for the expert review, as well as the incomplete set of medical documents, obtained by Gusev in numerous medical establishments”.

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