Christmas party host acquitted of violently resisting arrest

The man was accused with disturbing the repose of residents, creating a nuisance with a loudspeaker, refusing to give details to police and assaulting two police constables

A court has slammed police mishandling of a simple noise complaint as a St. Paul’s Bay resident was acquitted of public order offences and assaulting two police officers after finding them in his balcony late one January night last year.

Marko Stojanovic had been charged before magistrate Charmaine Galea, in a Qawra district sitting. Inspector Godwin Scerri accused the man of disturbing the repose of residents, creating a nuisance with a loudspeaker, refusing to give his details to police and assaulting and violently resisting two police constables.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea had heard how the man had been at home on January 7, 2019 celebrating the Orthodox Christmas with his wife and two friends. The Qawra police had received several phone calls that night, reporting loud music and shouting emanating from a block of flats in the locality.

Two officers were dispatched to deal with the cause and upon arriving, had heard loud music and shouting. They rang a doorbell from the doorstep of the door to the block. “However the court cannot ascertain which doorbell they rang since they obviously did not know which number the flat in question was.”

After ringing the bell to no avail, they started knocking on some chairs of a balcony that was reachable from the steps leading to the main door. The defendant had emerged and was asked to open the door.

The court expressed its doubts as to how loud the music and shouting were at the time since the people inside had “heard the police knocking on plastic chairs.”

The court had also watched CCTV footage exhibited by the prosecution and defence, noting that they were not identical and that the prosecution had been “selective on what it chose to exhibit, bearing in mind that the Prosecution has the duty to exhibit all the evidence for and against the defendant.”

From the footage, the court observed that the police officers had mishandled the situation, noting that the incident had precipitated when the police were confronted by the defendant for the mess they had made in the balcony. “From then on, they tried to arrest him and handled him in the worst possible of manners.” The well-built accused had resisted being handcuffed and had suffered multiple injuries at the hands of the officers before being sprayed with pepper spray when he was already down on the sofa.

“The court is of the opinion that the police officers should have asked for assistance. It must be kept in mind that the complaint they were investigating was of loud music and things should not have escalated to that point.”

The court said it could not conclude that the defendant had assaulted or violently resisted the police officers or failed to give his particulars.

“While the court reiterates that no one should obstruct police officers from doing their duties, it finds that had the present situation been handled better, the matter would not have escalated to this point.”

Stojanovic was acquitted of all charges. Lawyer Mario Mifsud was defence counsel.

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