Ronald Zak, Associated Press
VIENNA — A judge on Tuesday convicted an undercover Austrian police officer of attacking an American teacher after mistaking him for an African drug dealer and ordered him to pay a €2,800 ($3,620) fine.
Mike Brennan, a former football player from Jacksonville, Florida, suffered injuries to his back, head, neck, hand and wrist during the Feb. 11, 2009, incident in a subway station in Vienna, the Austrian capital. The officer, who pleaded not guilty, had faced up to three years in prison.
The Vienna police department has said the officer who was charged — and another who wasn't — mistook Brennan for a drug dealer of "almost identical" appearance and acknowledged they used force and injured him.
Brennan, however, claims the accused officer didn't identify himself before knocking him down on the platform and punching him. The officer, who cannot be named under Austrian law, disputed he hit Brennan.
Judge Patrick Aulebauer found that the attack did not amount to battery but that the officer behaved negligently.
"To a certain extent it's understandable that it came to this mix-up and that you thought Mr. Brennan was the one you're supposed to arrest," Aulebauer told the officer. "But that doesn't mean this mix-up could not have been avoided."
Brennan said he was "not happy" with the sentence and that he would talk to his lawyer, Wilfried Embacher, about possibly suing for damages.
"I still have to deal with the physical and mental pain and that's nothing compared to what his sentence is, it doesn't equal that at all," Brennan told The Associated Press.
During a previous trial session in October, Brennan said it took the officer a long time to flash his badge and that he did so only after his girlfriend spoke to him. The officer, however, countered that his badge was always visible and that he shouted "Police! Police!" before touching Brennan.
The officer said he would use a three-day window to decide whether to appeal the ruling.
- Rubber chickens, afros and clowns: A look at...
- Why Utahns are some of the biggest spenders,...
- Steven Powell ordered to serve more jail time...
- 35 arrested in Oakland after protest march
- Ferguson protesters across US peaceful,...
- These two things are helping California's...
- As Ferguson verdict is read, protesters in...
- In Britain, US turkey dinner is big for business
- As Ferguson verdict is read, protesters... 70
- Grand jury won't indict Ferguson cop in... 30
- Obama: Americans want 'new car smell'... 29
- Ferguson businesses torched in... 17
- Under pressure, Hagel steps down as... 15
- Obama immigration plan good, not great... 13
- Obama heads to Chicago to pitch... 13
- Why Utahns are some of the biggest... 12