Last Friday a Spanish police officer told the court that he saw a colleague in the riot squad strike a 1-O protestor on the head outside the Àgora School in Nou Barris, Barcelona. In spite of footage contradicting his version of events, the police officer denied that he was personally responsible, although he did admit that certain police officers acted improperly, without naming names.
He and two others under investigation for assaulting one of the demonstrators assured the court that they were not under orders to carry out a baton charge. Instead they were ordered not to arrest anyone and to enter and leave the polling stations quickly in order to seize the ballot boxes in order to prevent more people from gathering outside the doors. At the Àgora School polling station, in Barcelona’s Nou Barris district, no police officers were injured, although 17 voters were hurt, with head injuries and bruises, plus a middle-aged woman had two of her teeth broken.
The police inspector explained that two days before 1-O they were given a list of polling places where they might have to act and he went to carry out reconnaissance of each of them. As a result, on October 1, he decide that two of the three groups under his command, each consisting of 15 officers, would contain the crowd in the square in front of the school while the other fifteen from the riot squad would go down a narrow side street to another door into the school. Thus, the officers with shields went at the front of the group in order to push the demonstrators back, while the officers behind them hit the members of the public with their truncheons.
According to sources within the court, the two officers declared they had never seen such a "violent, aggressive and hostile mob", which acted with "hatred" and "insulted them" with shouts such as "we will vote" and "we’re peaceful people". Many of them had their faces covered and they hit them in the legs with umbrellas. The officers admitted they were sweaty and tired and that the operation felt "endless". In fact, the Gamo group, sent from Granada and Malaga, participated in seven other operations that morning, more than any other riot squad.
In a video, one of the officers under investigation can be seen striking a total of six blows with their truncheon against the upper part of the body of one of the protesting voters, while the other officer trips them up as they try to move away. The officer who hit them with their truncheon refused to admit that the blows were to the person’s head, claiming he was hitting their shoulder blades, although this is contradicted by footage of the incident. While admitting that the man was hit on the head, he claimed another officer was responsible, although he did not name him. The officer who tripped the man up, declared that he did not kick the man, but merely "tapped" him with his foot.
The inspector who gave evidence declared that he was with the police cordon before the operation; but that by then he was already inside the school, and he didn’t see anyone being hit by a truncheon.