Story By: Koen Berghuis, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: CEN
A police chief who allegedly killed a young female driver after he smashed into her car while drink-driving on duty has come under further scrutiny for posting bizarre social media snaps with his gun.
Reports state chief inspector Peter Gawronska, 51, had been driving with a colleague at his side in his patrol car with sirens on at speeds of up to 83mph in the streets of the German capital of Berlin just before the incident.
He reportedly crashed his car into 21-year-old Fabien M.’s Renault Clio at a speed of just over 55mph while the young woman was trying to park her car at the side of the road.
Pictures Credit: CEN
Fabien M.’s car was hit on the driver’s side and she died at the scene from her injuries.
An internal investigation against the chief inspector has now been launched into his role in the deadly car accident as well as into his overall behaviour as a cop.
Gawronska was himself injured in the accident and taken to a hospital where doctors performed a blood alcohol test.
The test reportedly showed Gawronska had a blood alcohol level of around 1 promille – well over the 0.5 promille which in Germany marks a traffic offence and lands the driver a temporary driving ban if caught.
The test results were however never published until now – more than one year after the accident –as a brave hospital nurse leaked the results to the public prosecutor’s office.
It means that Gawronska, who was previously only investigated for negligent homicide, will now be investigated for both negligent homicide and endangering road traffic by drink driving.
Lawyer Matthias Hardt, who represents Fabien M.’s relatives, spoke of a “terrible judicial scandal” and demanded an indictment of the chief inspector on charges of manslaughter and hit-and-run driving.
Burkard Dregger, the chief of the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) party in Berlin, was among the many politicians calling for a full and transparent police investigation “so that it what went wrong is clarified”.
A source within the Berlin police said that all those involved in the crash will now face further questioning over what they knew about Gawronska’s drunk state as “we want to know how it really was – with all the possible consequences”.
Those who will be questioned are the female colleague who was sitting next to Gawronska in the passenger seat and the doctors and nurses at the hospital where he was taken for treatment.
According to local media, Gawronska is a conspicuous figure within the Berlin police due to his grey goatee beard and the unusual social media snaps he frequently posts.
In some pictures, Gawronska is seen holding a gun to his own head and pointing it at a friend’s head with his arm around his neck.
A selfie Gawronska posted of himself staring at the camera while wearing a hoodie even became a popular tattoo around the world after a tattoo artist in Colorado stole his image and started tattooing it on clients’ arms.
Gawronska said at the time he was “not sure yet if I am proud or angry” about his face being used as a popular tattoo motif as “it could also be a prisoner dotting my portrait”.
A police spokeswoman said that “currently we cannot comment about the case” when asked whether or not Gawronska’s superiors knew about his unprofessional social media presence.
Chief of the German Police Union Rainer Wendt said such snaps are a grey area and it is principally a matter of taste.
Wendt said: “Civil service law regulates how the police officer should behave inside and outside the service. He must act so that reputational damage to the police is excluded. He must abide by the good-conduct obligation.”
The union chief said that “holding a gun to your head would have to be judged first” whether or not it damages the reputation of the police.
According to local media, Gawronska has been taken off duty and the Berlin police have started disciplinary action against him, which could lead to his dismissal from the force.
Investigations are ongoing.