Allgege Police Bruatlity Alleged Police Brutality

July 6, 2006

The Kaselehlie Press

In a three page letter addressed to Rullens Phillip - Director of the Pohnpei State Department of Public Safety, Mary Berman, a US Citizen, long time Pohnpei resident, and local attorney alleged Police brutality against her and her husband. She claimed in the letter that she and her husband were stopped on a dark road at 9:00 in the evening on June 21, in Nett Municipality by men who claimed that they were from the Nett and State Police departments though the men refused to show any identification. Mrs. Berman was driving her husband home after he had what she claims was a non-injury car accident with no property damage.

Berman said that she asked if they were under arrest or if there were any crimes with which they were being charged. She alleged that though the men representing themselves as Police officers told them that they were not under arrest they detained them just the same. She was told that the "unwritten policy" after any car accident was that the driver was to come immediately to the State Police Headquarters and file a report. She said that they would not let her have a form to fill out on the spot and refused her demands to call a State Attorney to check on the existence of such a policy.

The police officers, according to Berman's letter detained the couple while they waited for their supervisor who arrived at 9:15. She said that the supervisor did not ask the couple for any information but walked up to the car and announced in a loud voice, "If you don't let us take your husband right now, we will take him by force." She said that she felt that the officers would break her car windows and do just that so she asked to be let out of the car so that she could let her husband out whose door would not open from the inside. She said that there were three or four police officers leaning against her door.

They stepped aside and let her out of the vehicle. She claimed that at that point she remembered the power lock on the driver's side of the car and reached back inside to unlock the door. When she reached for it one of the police officers yelled, "Don't let her lock the car." She alleged that three officers then pinned her against the car while another crawled through the car grabbing her husband and pulling him from the car. The policemen detaining Mrs. Berman allegedly pulled her arms behind her back and handcuffed her tightly leaving dark bruises on her arms.

According to Mrs. Berman, the police officers attempted to put her in the back of a pickup truck in the rain. She said that she insisted that she be allowed to passenger in the truck cab with a seatbelt. The officers allowed her into the cab but offered her no seatbelt. She said that she did not see what they did with her husband.

Berman said that she asked to speak to a State Attorney or to the Public Defender but that since it was after office hours none could be reached.

Mrs. Berman said that they informed her of her right to be silent after she had already filled out a form which asked if she had been drinking. After detaining the Berman's and transporting them to the Police Station, the police officers asked Mr. Berman to undergo a sobriety test instead of doing one on the road side. They claimed that he failed the test involving the walking of a straight line.

Asking once again if she was being charged with a crime, the supervisor told her that she had pushed him and was being charged with "Obstruction of Justice". Mary was released but her husband was taken to jail.

She said in her letter, "I have read numerous cases in the law books about police brutality of a very severe nature here in Pohnpei and in the other states of the FSM. This is why I was so concerned that these 'police' should not take my husband away from me, out of my sight, on a dark road at night…My request, to you [Director Phillips], is that an investigation be made, and that those who violated State law be punished and terminated as appropriate under the law."

On June 28 when the Kaselehlie Press contacted Director Phillips he had not yet seen the letter. When we emailed him the letter he was quick to respond and a statement was forthcoming from Police Chief Joe Roby. On consultation with the State Attorney General's office Chief Roby was advised to make no comment until the results of an Internal Affairs investigation is completed. The investigation was initiated on Friday, June 30, 2006.