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Helsinki cop fined for breach of duty after demanding money for teen's YouTube video

The teen's mother testified that the constable personally sent her a bill for 500 euros along with a bank account number.

Poliisi.
File photo. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Helsinki District Court has ordered a city police constable to pay a fine of just over 1,300 euros after finding him guilty of breach of duty in a case that started on the last day of April 2017.

The court found the constable guilty of asking a family to pay 500 euros in compensation after the family's teenage son had posted a YouTube video of the constable and another officer removing a person from Helsinki Central Railway Station.

The teen, who was under the age of 15 at the time, had shot and then uploaded a video to YouTube and named it: "Racist police officer arrests a young immigrant without reason" (rough translation from Finnish).

Both officers were identifiable in the video, a clip that garnered nearly 60,000 views before it was eventually removed from YouTube.

The constable reported the teen for having posted the clip, saying it amounted to aggravated defamation and obstruction of an official, but a preliminary investigation into the matter was laid to rest because the subject of the probe was under the age of 15.

Serious matter

The teen's mother told the court that she became aware of the posted video in mid May, after child welfare authorities contacted her at the request of police.

A few days later, the mother testified, the constable who was featured in the video had also contacted her, saying that her son was guilty of aggravated defamation and that it was a serious matter. She said the constable said if her son had been just a couple of weeks older, he could have faced two years in prison.

The mother said she apologised to the constable during that conversation and asked whether there was some way that her son could reimburse him for what had happened.

The mother testified that the constable said fines for such aggravated offenses range in size from thousands to ten thousand euros. She said that the constable then invited her to meet at the Helsinki police station in Pasila on the evening of 2 June.

Mother asked for written request

During that meeting, the mother testified, the constable first suggested that the family pay him and his colleague - who was also present at the meeting - 1,000 euros each.

The mother said she wanted that request put in writing and told them she planned to consult with a lawyer. She said the other officer then said he no longer wished to be compensated.

The next day, the constable sent the mother an invoice for 500 euros by email, along with a bank account number.

The constable denied that he had demanded payment from the family, saying that he had sent the email at the mother's request.

The court found that the constable had misused his official authority after asking for payment from the family, and that his actions endangered public trust in the police when it comes to settling matters in an appropriate way.

Helsinki District Court ordered the constable to pay 40 "day fines," which in this case amounted to 1,360 euros.

The constable also faced a personal data breaching charge as well as a breach of duty charge for having sought information about himself in the police department's computer system without a valid reason.

Those charges were dropped, however, because the criteria for personal data breaching violations were not met, according to the court.

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