Investigation to be opened into police actions during September protests

Videos show officers storming rail station with batons and firing smoke pellets

A still from the video of police entering Atocha. / juanramajete

The Directorate General of Police has launched an “internal investigation” into the actions of some of its officers at Madrid’s Atocha rail station during the September 25 demonstrations around Congress in the capital. If the probe uncovers any irregularities in the officers’ handling of the situation, disciplinary action could be pursued.

The events occurred when 30 agents from the police’s riot squad stormed into Atocha in pursuit of a group of protestors who had previously set up a road block outside the station. When police arrived to remove the barrier, they faced a hail of stones and descended into the regional rail network area of Atocha in search of their assailants. At least two videos showing what happened next were posted on the internet the same day. The officers fired smoke pellets, described as “dissuasive” by a police spokesman, who denied that rubber bullets had been used. In one of the videos, a young man is seen with his face bloodied, claiming he had been hit with a police baton without motive.

In another video, the officers are seen running down a platform with smoke pellets detonating around them. “You’re mad! You Thugs!” people shouted at the police.

“There are images of people waiting for a train and being beaten [by police],” complained regional deputy Ricardo Sixto, a member of the United Left coalition.

In the longest video, agents are seen beating a man about the legs and then the body. More explosions and shouting are heard as the camera follows an officer to a bench where a senior citizen is shielding a young man. Another officer nearby is captured hitting another man with his baton.

One man later speaks to the camera, explaining that he was struck by the police despite having had nothing to do with the protests, and, he claims, was simply waiting for a train in the station.

Nobody was arrested during the disturbances, which police sources said were “unclear and difficult to explain.”

The official police explanation is that the officers were responding to a report of protestors vandalizing the station.

The Directorate General said on Wednesday that the internal investigation forms part of the “routine of permanent self-evaluation” carried out by members of the riot squad.

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