A demerit and a transfer were just punishment for a police officer who roughed up a betel nut vendor using judo techniques after getting into a verbal confrontation with her, Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) told the legislature yesterday.
Lawmakers asked Jiang whether it was appropriate to punish the officer within 24 hours after the incident and before an investigation was completed.
Luan Cheng (欒丞), an officer from the Jhonghe Second Police Precinct, on Tuesday approached 19-year-old Yen Ju-yi (顏如憶) who was selling betel nuts at a small shop in Jhonghe City (中和), Taipei County, and told her she was showing too much skin and may have violated the law.
The two engaged in a shouting match. As Yen was picking up a remote control to shut the door, the officer pushed Yen outside the booth. She tripped, but quickly stood up and pushed the officer, who then threw her to the ground, jumped on her back, handcuffed her and dragged her over a few meters on the pavement into the police car.
The whole incident was caught on video.
Accusations of police brutality poured in from the public after media reported the incident. Luan was quickly given a demerit and transferred to another position.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) asked whether the hasty decision to punish the officer was appropriate.
Jiang said he supported the decision.
“When deciding whether an officer handled a case appropriately, we should look at whether the action taken was necessary,” Jiang said. “Had the officer been facing an armed criminal, the manner in which he had handled the matter would have been appropriate.”
“In addition, officers are trained to remain calm when provoked verbally. [Luan didn’t]. That’s the main reason why Luan was given a demerit,” Jiang said, adding that the officer should have called for help — especially from female officers.
At a separate setting yesterday, Luan expressed regret over the punishment.
While Yen has accused Luan of causing bodily harm, Luan said that Yen prevented an officer of the law from exercising his duties and slandered him.
“I pushed her out of the booth because she tried to shut the door. I forced her down because she was preventing me from doing my job — and she was cursing at me,” Luan said. “If I hadn’t done what I did, she could have framed me for something I didn’t do, with her and me in a closed booth.”
Luan said he hoped the public would obtain all the facts rather than judge the case merely by watching video clips.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JIMMY CHUANG
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