Driver who allegedly used his car as a weapon sentenced

The man without a driving license, who also has a criminal record, admits wrongdoing but insists he did not attack police with the car, resulting in the accidental death of one of his passengers.

The driver of the car fleeing police, in which an innocent youth was shot down, leaves court on June 27, 2018.The driver of the car fleeing police, in which an innocent youth was shot down, leaves court on June 27, 2018. (Source: SITA)

The driver identified as Michal J., who last June fled police in his car, resulting in the death of Tomáš, aged 17, who was shot coincidentally when the police were trying to stop the car, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison. He is also banned from driving any motor vehicle for the same amount of time.

The District Court in Žiar nad Hronom decided so on June 27, the Sme daily wrote.

Police in a civilian car marked only by sirens and light signals wanted to stop the Seat Ibiza driven by Michal J. on the night of June 18, 2017, but as the defendant would not oblige, they chased the car (unaware of the three other passengers inside) all the way from Nová Baňa to Hronský Beňadik in western Slovakia. After they failed to stop the car with lights and sirens, they shot warning shots targeted at the rear tire. One of them hit Tomáš, who was injured and later died in the hospital.

Two charges

The judge found Michal guilty not just of the misdemeanour of obstructing the execution of a lawful decision but also of an attack on a public official. Michal violated the double ban on driving from previous incidents, and by reckless driving into the middle of the road, he also threatened two police officers executing their powers when he tried to push their car out of the road, thus risking a car accident. He allegedly used the car as a weapon.

The judge also reminded, as quoted by Sme, that Michal (from the village of Machulince in Zlaté Moravce District) has already been sentenced for an attack on a public official in the past, in December 2016.

Denying attack on police

The prosecutor was satisfied with the verdict and noted that it was the behaviour of the driver – the careless escape ignoring the calls to stop – that caused the death of the innocent young man.

Michal’s lawyer Eugen Cimmermann was dissatisfied, on the other hand.

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“We are dissatisfied – in part with the verdict involving the attack on a public official,” he noted, as quoted by the daily. “My client has confessed to the obstruction of the execution of a legal decision; he did not admit it in the courtroom only because of the way the charge was filed,” he explained. “He would have to plea guilty for both deeds. We filed the appeal,” the lawyer summed up.

Cimmermann argued that if his client really threatened the police car and the officers, both vehicles, or at least the police vehicle, would be damaged. He also added that his client did not know that the Volkswagen Golf chasing the Seat was a police car as it was not labelled as "Police".

Before the verdict was given, Michal, who did not testify during the trial, also commented on the incident. “I am sorry I drove the car when being banned to do so, and also because of the young man’s death. But I deny attacking the police officers and trying to push them out of the road,” he said, according to Sme.

Policeman Vladimír N. who shot at the car, hitting the passenger on the back seat, faces a charge of negligence for killing a person; a court will decide on his guilt or innocence.

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