Tuesday, December 10, 2013

bearing witness, or notes for police / court dates

this is where i was yesterday, right on day 1 after the holiday time - it looks nice, but actually the white building is a court. and i had a date to go there, as witness for a trial that was about a traffic incident, with a friend of mine the victim. he was on a bike, and ended up being slapped in the face by a car driver. that happend after the car driver pushed past him in a narrow road, and he protested against the carelessness of the driver. "Körperverletzung" it is called in German: "an act of bodily harm".

i was "only" there as witness, but it shook me up again, just like the incident itself. still i am glad i went, and glad that i was there in the first place and saw what happened, and had the brainwave to take pictures of the incident as it happened, which turned out to be one of the main clues at court. (the thing was, the driver accused my friend of being the attacker, and claimed he was the victim when the police arrived)

now, looking back at it, i thought i put some notes together, i hope this might be of help for all to happen to bear witness at some point, too, or who are involved in a case that goes to court:

- don't hesitate to call the police
- but don't expect the police to arrive there quickly, and to be all motivated when they arrive
- take photos: of the incident, of injuries, of the place, of anything that might give a clue
- if you were injured, even if it is just minor thing, go to the doctor to have it attested
- write down an own protocol of what happened. you think you will remember everything, but the thing is: our memory is short term. we forgot details. note down what happened, what was said, details like who was in which place
- not sure how this works in other countries, but i gave a first witness report at the police station. i thought i receive a copy, but they just file it for themselves.
-  take good care of yourself. there's a reason why it is called "bearing witness".


Anonymous said...

Sorry you had to deal with that but glad you were there for your friend. If people could just be honest and admit when they are wrong... Hugs to you!

Dorothee said...

Thanks for your thoughts and hugs. The thing i wasn't prepared for was the way the driver turned himself into the victim, and managed to confuse the police with it. Which then lead to the odd situation that the police tried not to get involved, and then the police offer even complained about the trend to more aggressive driving in general, and people who call the police for all kinds of petty reasons.

Linda H. said...

Good advice.

I hope it all turned out well for your friend.

susan said...

Dorothee, if the driver was rude enough to cause the incident, then I am not at all surprised that he lied (or at best, told it only from his self-centered pov) to the police. Hope all is well.

Dorothee said...

Thanks for your feedback. Yes, the court took time to listen to everyone, which helped to clarify things and brought a feeling of justice back. It's another lesson: police officers are only humans, too, they make mistakes or have bad days like everyone.