The Wrocław court partially dismissed the prosecutor’s decision to discontinue the proceedings regarding the death of Łukasz Łągiewka. The man died in the summer of 2021, the police had previously intervened in his apartment. Investigators will now have to look again at the police officers’ behavior. According to experts, the cause of the 29-year-old’s death was a cocaine overdose. The representative of the deceased’s family does not believe this.
Investigators will have to deal with the death of Łukasz Łągiewka – this is the decision of the Wrocław court, which dismissed the decision of the district prosecutor’s office to discontinue the proceedings.
In the proceedings, investigators assessed two issues: the behavior of the intervening police officers and the behavior of paramedics and ambulance workers. As Patrycja Chojnacka-Zakrzewska from the District Prosecutor’s Office in Legnica told TVN24 journalists on Thursday, the court did not share the prosecutor’s assessment of the first act and revoked the decision, therefore the investigation will continue. The court indicated further actions to be performed, which are binding on the prosecutor.
However, regarding the behavior of the rescuers, the court agreed with the prosecutor’s office that in this respect “there are no signs of a prohibited act.”
– From the very beginning of these proceedings, the District Prosecutor’s Office in Legnica conducted them very sloppily. We raised questions about the fact that Łukasz Łągiewka did not die from a cocaine overdose. The court here also said this should be investigated. The evidence on which the decision (to discontinue – ed.) was based is simply unreliable. The opinions issued by experts from the Department of Forensic Medicine were self-exclusive – Wojciech Kasprzyk, attorney-at-law of Łukasz Łągiewka’s family, told journalists after the decision of the Wrocław court was announced.
Kasprzyk announced that he would submit an application to transfer the proceedings to another prosecutor’s office and for an expert opinion from another Department of Forensic Medicine to be issued. – We are counting on the new Minister of Justice who will also get involved in these proceedings and create a special commission that will investigate the causes and effects of police actions – added the attorney.
District Prosecutor’s Office in Legnica discontinued the investigation at the end of 2022. According to the investigators’ findings – informed Wojciech Kasprzyk, the family’s representative – the police did not contribute to Łukasz’s death, and the intervention was carried out correctly, direct coercive measures were used in accordance with the procedure. The cause of death of 29-year-old Łukasz Łągiewka was given as a cocaine overdose.
– We do not agree that a cocaine overdose was the cause of Łukasz’s death. We have an opinion from an expert, a professional working at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Łódź, who excludes this and writes directly that the dose of cocaine was not fatal. The prosecutor’s office rejected this request for evidence, but took into account the pharmacist’s opinion – said attorney Kasprzyk. He added: – We submitted an application for a reconstruction of the events, which did not take place. In our opinion, the police exceeded their powers, just like in the case of Igor Stachowiak. We will appeal against this discontinuation.
The intervention was recorded on camera
On the night of August 1-2, 2021, 29-year-old Łukasz Łągiewka locked himself in his apartment in Psie Pole in Wrocław. He didn’t let his relatives inside. The family was afraid that the man might commit suicide, so the father called the police. The officers forcibly entered the apartment and overpowered the 29-year-old. The man was taken to hospital. He died a few hours later.
Immediately after the incident, the Wrocław police reported that the man “locked himself in the apartment and did not want to open the door, and his safety was at risk because he was highly aroused, a decision was made to enter by force.” And the intervention – as reported – was recorded by a camera on the uniform of one of the officers.
The sister of the deceased 29-year-old presented a different opinion from the police one. She claimed that during the intervention, six policemen used gas, telescopic batons and chokeholds on Łukasz. The family complained about the way the activities were carried out. – In front of my eyes, in front of my father, they murdered my brother – said Wiktoria Łągiewka at a press conference.
In response to these allegations, a few days later the police – at a meeting with journalists – presented a recording that serves as evidence in the case. The spokesman for the Chief of Police, Mariusz Ciarka, explained that the decision was made to publish it “due to the important interest of society and the police”.
The over four-minute recording shows police officers trying to force open the door to the apartment, which is blocked by the 29-year-old from the inside. Gas and a telescopic baton were used. From time to time, as a result of kicks, the door opened ajar. There was a knife in the man’s hand. Finally, the police managed to enter the apartment. At this point, the recording presented by the police stops. The continuation of the intervention was not shown, and it was this part that the family of the deceased 29-year-old had the greatest reservations about.
In the fall of 2021, meetings of the Administration and Internal Affairs Committee were held in the Sejm, attended by, among others, members of Łukasz’s family together with their representatives. No representative of the police or the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration showed up at the first meeting. The next meeting was held with the participation of the Deputy Minister of Interior and Administration Maciej Wąsikfirst deputy commander of police Dariusz Augustyniak and spokesman of the Police Headquarters Mariusz Ciarka. They then showed exactly the same recording that we saw at the police conference a month earlier. Several deputies demanded that the entire recording from the officer’s body camera be shown. However, this did not happen. Ciarka explained that only the last few seconds of the recording had not been published, and Deputy Minister Wąsik added that the prosecutor’s office had not consented to the publication of the entire material.
Unpublished fragment of the recording
“Gazeta Wyborcza Wrocław” obtained the entire recording of the intervention in Łukasz’s apartment. This is 80 seconds of a previously unpublished fragment of the film, after forcefully entering the apartment. It shows, among others: beating with a baton or trampling parts of the 29-year-old’s body to the floor.
Asked about the comment by the police, Assistant Commissioner Antoni Rzeczkowski from the press office of the Police Headquarters emphasized that the end of the recording was not published “only out of respect for the deceased and his relatives.”
The e-mail stated: “(…) presenting an almost naked man behaving irrationally could not only be perceived by the family as a humiliation of the deceased and family members, but could also result in filing a lawsuit related to it.” Rzeczkowski also said that “the police have nothing to hide and, as is well known to anyone with basic knowledge, the film is available to the family, attorneys and can probably be presented by authorized bodies under the principles specified in the Code of Criminal Procedure.”
Prosecutor’s office: no injuries were disclosed that were related to the death
To avoid accusations of bias, the investigation in this case was transferred to the District Prosecutor’s Office in Legnica. Already in November 2021, the spokeswoman of the unit, Lidia Tkaczyszyn, informed that based on the autopsy “it can be said that the injured man did not have any injuries that would have a cause-and-effect relationship with his death.”
During the investigation, the following were interviewed: members of Łukasz’s family, his neighbors, policemen and firefighters taking part in the intervention, paramedics present at the scene and doctors and paramedics who provided medical assistance to the 29-year-old in the hospital. No one was charged.
Main photo source: Police Headquarters