There was booze in the game, possibly other narcotics. And so the eight young people who “spontaneously” gathered at the Antwerp Ibis hotel fled when the police arrived. One of them, Damian R. (21), wanted to escape through the window and fell down four floors. “This is every cop‘s nightmare.”
The twenties fell out of a window on the fourth floor. Saturday night four o’clock, on the edge of Antwerp‘s Theaterplein. After several reports of noise pollution, a police patrol arrives at the scene. An unknown number of young people don’t care about curfew at the Ibis hotel across the street and are having a party. The Belgian authorities speak of a “spontaneously grown party”, according to the first investigations, nothing indicates a deliberately pre-organized lockdown party, it sounds like.
There is talk of several people, eight in total, who had booked several rooms and did not know each other. Damian R. (21), hailing from Deurne and with Polish roots, was reportedly there with his girlfriend. The eight involved met during the evening and decided to have a party together.
The fact is that earlier that night, the staff of the budget hotel are going to get a vain story on the top floor. If that doesn‘t work out, the police will arrive at the scene. The signal for the eight young people to hide. Damian R. flees to the window, opens it, tries to scrape out and falls meters down. According to Nieuwsblad, several persons, including the agents, are witnessing the scene.
morning the Antwerp prosecutor announced that the police inspectors were still trying to resuscitate the victim in vain. Nor could the medical staff do anything more. Damian R. must have died instantly from the severe blow. “The other hotel guests, the hotel staff and the policemen involved were very impressed by the facts and can count on assistance from the victim care service.”
The autopsy will have to show how much the victim was under the influence of certain intoxicants. Whether the remaining seven attendees will receive a coronaboete or later have to defend themselves before the police court is not yet a clear matter.
Friends of Damian put flowers in front of the Ibis hotel on Sunday night. In silence, there was also mourning together.
Also Antwerp mayor responds shocked and speaks of a “tragic death of a young Antwerp”. “Since the start of checks at lockdown parties, we have noticed that people are trying to avoid police checks. However, the security services have our general interest in mind and are there to help us where necessary. Police officers throughout this country have proven themselves in exceptional circumstances to carry out their difficult task professionally and with integrity.”
De Wever links the death of Damian R. to the consequences of the lockdown on the mental well-being of young people and hopes for a serene social debate. The question is whether the ill-fated story can be included in that.
An inquiry around three other major student cities — Brussels, Leuven and Ghent — shows that in recent weeks there has been frequent fling through roofs and gardens for agents. Last weekend in Borgerhout, a fleeing woman was injured on her shoulder while trying to escape from a toilet window during a check. In Brussels, a lockdown party was shut down with 88 attendees. Also in Ghent the police had to go out several times on Saturday. Twice in one place.
‘Nightmare of every cop. ‘
Yet the last few weeks there are not suddenly a lot more lockdown parties with young people, it sounds. It fluctuates from zone to zone, weekend to weekend. The death of Damian R. is the first in Belgium at such a forbidden party. “Such an incident is the nightmare of every policeman on patrol,” says Gent’s police spokesman Matto Langeraert.
Same sound in Leuven with spokesperson Mathieu Caudron. “As a cop, you always try to enter into a quiet dialogue. Only in a second instance will the sanction be followed. If they flee safely through a garden or a gate, that is a pity for us but also the end of the nuisance. What happened in Antwerp is, of course, deeply tragic for all involved.”