Police refute mistreatment allegations from man detained for drink-driving

·Editorial team
·5-min read
The Police Cantonment Complex. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)
The Police Cantonment Complex. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has responded to a video interview alleging police mistreatment of a man taken into its custody last year, saying that the man's statements give a "misleading impression" as he had not set out the full facts.

In a media release on Tuesday (29 June), SPF said that it is aware of the video interview posted on the socio-political website The Online Citizen Asia, in which the man, See Kian Beng, alleged that he was held in the police lock-up for longer than necessary on 14 February 2020.

See also alleged in the video that:

  • the police had assigned him to a padded cell and he was alone inside, even though he had mentioned that he had claustrophobia;

  • the police had pinned him down and used excessive force in moving him into the padded cell, causing injuries to him as a result;

  • the police had ignored his request to use the toilet and he ended up urinating inside his cell;

  • no food was given to him;

  • the police had refused to let him call his family members;

  • the medical personnel at the lock-up had ignored his concerns on his high heart rate;

  • his car was returned to him only after a long time.

Arrested for drink-driving, but passed BEA test

SPF said in the media release that See was arrested for drink-driving after he failed a breath analyser test conducted at a police roadblock along Boon Keng Road at around 3.40am on 14 February 2020.

He was brought back to the lock-up facility at Police Cantonment Complex at about 4am, and was processed for detention while pending the conduct of a further breath analyser test via the Breath Evidential Analyser (BEA) machine.

"At the lock-up, See was attended to by nursing officers on two occasions and he was assessed to be fit for detention," SPF said.

"At about 4.40am, after a few attempts to provide a BEA test sample, See passed the BEA test taken in the lock-up with a recorded result of 31 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath, which was just below the legal limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath."

SPF said that, as See was legally arrested having failed his initial breath analyser test, he was processed in accordance with the rules for persons arrested and brought into police custody.

This included conducting a search on him, verification of his identity, a medical examination and assessment of his condition to determine whether he was fit for detention, and registering of his property.

Put up resistance against entering padded cell

SPF said in the media release that after See had completed his BEA test attempts, he was escorted to a temporary holding area to await the processing of his release, pending confirmation that he was not required for further investigations.

However, See refused to enter the temporary holding area as he told officers to the effect that he was claustrophobic and would harm himself if put into the temporary holding area.

"He insisted on waiting along a common corridor, which would affect the movement of persons, including other persons-in-custody, within the facilities," SPF said.

"Officers explained that he could not wait there, but he refused to move. See continued to disregard officers’ repeated instructions to move into the temporary holding area and warned officers that he might cause harm to himself.

"In view of his threat to harm himself and out of concern for his safety, officers decided to transfer See to a padded cell instead, using a wheelchair. See put up a strong resistance entering into the padded cell and struggled with officers.

"Despite repeated advice by the officers, See refused to comply with officers’ instruction. Officers therefore had to apply necessary force to physically move him into the padded cell."

At about 6am, See requested to use the toilet. Arrangements were made for more officers to escort See to the toilet due to his prior struggle.

SPF said that when the officers got to the cell, See was observed to be sleeping, hence they did not wake him. Prior to this, See was allowed to use the toilet on two occasions at about 4.30am and 4.55am.

When breakfast was served at around 6.25am, an officer checked on See and found him to still be asleep. As such, breakfast was not served to him.

Complaint lodged, but police did not find wrongdoing

SPF said that, in its review, it did not find records of See’s request to make any phone calls. Close-circuit television (CCTV) footage showed that there were no signs of See limping or exhibiting discomfort when he eventually left the padded cell. He was able to walk normally and was escorted by officers.

It added that See was released unconditionally from Police custody at about 7.40am, around four hours after his arrest, and he was told to collect his vehicle later in the evening for safety considerations. See subsequently collected his vehicle on the same night.

"The police does not typically release vehicles back to persons arrested for drink driving straight after their release from custody as they may still have alcohol in their body, which could affect their faculties and cause them to pose a risk to themselves and other road users if they are allowed to operate the vehicle too soon," SPF said.

Shortly after his release, See lodged a complaint and wrote in to provide his feedback on his custodial experience. The police had asked See to seek medical assessment following his complaint, and the medical form provided by See indicated that he had sustained some minor injuries, which included abrasions on his right knee, and a two-centimetre laceration on his right knee.

These injuries appeared to be consistent with the struggles he put up when officers attempted to place him inside the padded cell, SPF said.

The police conducted internal investigations including reviewing the CCTV recordings, and did not find any abuse or wrongdoing. The findings were conveyed to See in June 2020.

See then wrote in again on 2 June this year to enquire about this case. SPF said it had tried to contact him on two separate occasions and offered to arrange a further interview with him to hear his concerns. However, he declined to be interviewed.

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