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Berlin: A Sad Story Becomes a Scandal

A year ago, on January 29th, 2018, Fabien Martini wanted to park her white Renault Clio close to Potsdamer Platz, in the heart of Berlin. Near the intersection of Grunerstrasse and Jüdenstraße, the beautiful 21-year-old lady chose to park the vehicle on the central dividing strip, next to countless other cars.

She had gotten her driver’s license at age 18 and was an experienced driver. What she did not expect was the police car which came out of a tunnel at a speed of more than 90 km/h (56 mph) and raced towards her. Seconds later, at about 1:00 p.m., the patrol car crashed into the driver’s side of Martini’s Renault.

During the collision, the police car pushed the driver’s door into Fabien Martini. She was injured badly and died on the scene. A young woman’s life was over. Her plans and dreams, along with everything else in her life, were gone, all of a sudden.

Four and a half hours after the accident, police officers and two members of their crisis response team showed up at Martini’s parents’ home in Berlin’s Reinickendorf quarter in order to bring them the terrible news. Needless to say, the Martinis were heartbroken, and still are.

Up to this point, the sad story about a car crash in Berlin is one of many. Last year, 45 people died on the streets of Berlin. Statistically speaking there was one street death every eight days. Fabien Martini was one of them. But this tragedy turned out to be different.

A year later, meaning today, there is no closure. Fabien’s parents recently told the ‘Berliner Kurier‘ daily, nobody could take away their sadness, but they had not gotten any help since it had happened and there was no justice either. “A civil servant killed our daughter”, her father told the publication, “but the state does not do anything.”

After the accident, Berlin prosecutors started an investigation procedure against the officer who was driving the patrol car. He is suspected of involuntary manslaughter. But, according to the Martini family’s lawyer, there is still no outcome.

A police car crashes into the car of a young lady who dies on the scene. The authorities seem to be working slowly, and the parents do not hear or get anything from the state. If the story had ended here, it would have been very unfortunate, and probably forgotten soon. But there is more.

The cop at the wheel was intoxicated. Furthermore, it looks like investigators were not interested in reading the alleged culprit’s patient chart. At Berlin’s Charité hospital, its director Prof. Dr. med. Ulrich Frei told the ‘Tagesspiegel‘ daily, nobody had requested the file for a year.

Frei told the paper, staffers at the hospital had been criticized for “possibly refusing” to give away the file. “The opposite is the case”, he was quoted saying in today’s ‘Tagesspiegel‘ edition. “For one year we have waited for someone to come along with a judicial decision.” Of course, documents of this kind will not be given to investigators without a judge’s signature.

After the deadly accident, the officer who drove the police car was taken to the Charité, where he was tested for alcohol in his blood. The result: He had a BAC of almost 0.11 percent. No driver should ever have an alcohol concentration of this magnitude in his or her blood. The fact that police officers should be completely sober goes without saying.

There are several open questions: Why was the cop intoxicated? Why didn’t anyone seem to care until today? Why wasn’t the officer’s alcohol level checked on site, right after the accident? At that moment it was probably even higher than later, at the clinic.

This sad story will not be over until all of the relevant information is on the table and until there is justice. So far it looks like this deadly accident could have been avoided. Had the police officer been sober and alert, he should have been able to avoid the crash.

According to the ‘Tagesspiegel‘, four cases of intoxication on duty were registered at Berlin’s police department from 2015 through 2017.

Related article: Berlin’s Police: Coping With All Challenges