Thursday, 27 March 2008

'Beaten for dog poo'

Battered: Diedre O'Neill has allegedly been beaten by a Metro police officer after her daughter's puppy made a mess in the street. Photo: Breton Geach, Cape Argus

March 26 2008 at 12:00PM

By Jade Witten

A Sea Point woman - in Cape Town - landed in hospital with severe facial injuries after allegedly being beaten up by metro police officers who confronted her when her daughter's Jack Russell puppy defecated in the street.

Deirdre O'Neill was then held in police custody at the Sea Point police station for about four hours.

She is facing charges of riotous behaviour and obstructing an officer in the execution of his official duties.

O'Neill was walking six-month-old Dogmatix along Sea Point Main Road on Tuesday morning when the incident occurred.

Speaking at the emergency unit at Somerset Hospital, a tearful O'Neill said she had never in her "wildest dreams" thought that an innocent morning stroll would turn this "ugly".

Her clothing was still drenched in blood and she had a deep gash on her forehead and bruises and scrapes on her face, arms and knees.

She had X-rays to check if there was damage to her ribs.

O'Neill, who works from home, said she walked her daughter Tanitha Jolly's puppy every morning.

But on Tuesday Dogmatix defecated twice on the route and a Metro policeman approached O'Neill.

"He told me to pick up the dog's s**t, but I only had the one bag on me that was already used, and I had thrown it away already," she said.

O'Neill said the Metro policeman was threatening to arrest her. When she asked for his identity, he allegedly replied: "I'll show you my identity" and began attacking her, she told the Cape Argus.

When she resisted, a scuffle ensued.

"He headlocked me after he cuffed me, then rammed me into a wall. He said he would f*** me three times. He hit me with his elbow; I saw stars. He then threw me into the back of the police van and took me to Sea Point police station," she said.

O'Neill said her house was a three-minute walk from where the incident happened.

"I would have got another plastic bag to pick up after the dog.

"I am angry, horrified beyond belief. My fear is not the gangsters out there but the cops and what they are capable of doing to me and getting away with it," she said.

Tanitha Jolly was the first person her mother phoned after the incident.

She told the Cape Argus that her mother usually took a plastic bag to pick up after Dogmatix.

Residents of Sea Point were "fanatical" about cleaning up after their dogs during walks, she said.

"You don't understand how serious we are about this (cleaning up after the dogs).

"We would carry water and Dettol to clean the ground after the dog urinated," she said.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Billy Jones confirmed that O'Neill had been arrested on a charge of riotous behaviour as well as obstructing an officer in the execution of his official duties.

O'Neill was released on warning and was due to appear in the Cape Town magistrate's court on Wednesday.

Metro police spokesperson Kevin Maxwell said he was unaware of the incident, but that the department would look into launching an internal investigation into the conduct of the metro police officer.

Dikeledi Phiri, the national spokesperson for the police watchdog, the Independent Complaints Directorate, said the ICD strongly condemned such behaviour.

"The police are not supposed to assault anyone, even if they witness a criminal kill someone.

"They (the police) have to follow procedure and assaulting someone is not part of that procedure," she said.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Argus on March 26, 2008


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