The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has commenced criminal proceedings against one of its own personnel after a video appearing to show the officer kicking a member of the public went viral on social media, portal Delfi reports.
The video (link in Estonian) appears to show an individual seated on the ground in a street in Pärnu. After some moments the PPA officer is seen to kick the individual twice, the first time, to the head.
The individual was reportedly intoxicated and had knocked over a mobile speed camera which the PPA officer and their colleagues had been using to monitor traffic speeds, Delfi says, while the officer had allegedly deployed pepper spray against them prior to the footage being caught.
Head of the PPA station in Pärnu Üllar Kütt (pictured) said that: "It is highly unfortunate that the police camera operator reacted to the situation like that."
"What we know is that the incident started today at the corner of Põllu tänav and Haapsalu mnt, where the PPA had been monitoring traffic with a mobile speed camera.
"A 42-year-old male displaying signs of intoxication knocked over and broke the camera as he passed," Kütt added, and said that while the man continued walking down the street, the PPA officer who had been operating the camera followed him up the street after calling a patrol for backup, ordering the man to stop.
The individual remained aggressive and in the ensuing scuffle, the PPA officer used tear gas in self-defense, resulting in the man sitting down and: "What happened from then on, until the arrival of the PPA patrol can be seen in the video."
Kütt added that once the original threat had been mitigated, with the use of tear gas, the PPA officer's subsequent actions in kicking the man were "disappointing" and "unnecessary", while the video going viral was "unfortunate", not least as it can reflect badly on other officers not involved in the incident, and on the force as a whole.
PPA spokesperson Maarja Punak noted on her official social media account that, far from hushing up the incident: "On the contrary, one of our staff members is involved, then it is our job to publicly acknowledge what happened and to put in place steps to prevent the recurrence of such a situation," adding that inappropriate behavior on the part of PPA officers would always be dealt with, including via disciplinary or criminal proceedings where necessary.
Üllar Kütt said that PPA officers should also have a higher than average tolerance for stress, so that they remain level headed even under verbal or physical assault, added, that the authority has started criminal proceedings to get to the bottom of what happened in the lead-up to the events depicted in the video clip.
The original Delfi piece (in Estonian) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte