Assaulting a man in viral video, alleged Johor police station chief may face up to 1-year jail, RM2k fine or both
A distressing video went viral on social media recently, depicting an individual being assaulted by a man who is allegedly a police officer at an eatery. As reported by FMT, the incident took place in April last year but the video only recently circulated online, catching the attention of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM)
In a statement by Johor Police Chief CP Dato’ Kamarul Zaman bin Mamat, the Johor Police Contingent was made aware of the video on 12 January after it was uploaded to the social media platform X. In the post, it was alleged that the perpetrator is a Sergeant-Major who is also the Sri Gading police station chief.
Kamarul has since announced that the police officer would be transferred immediately and that his actions in the video were unacceptable, with investigations already being initiated on the incident. In the video, the alleged police officer can be seen repeatedly slapping a man while forcefully holding his head.
The victim was identified as a suspect accused of breaking into an eatery who was arrested on 15 April 2023. The viral video was also confirmed to be recorded on the same day.
With the background of the case being established, what are the potential legal actions that can be taken against the perpetrator? Furthermore, given that the perpetrator is an alleged high-ranking police officer, are there any special procedures that the authorities must go through?
Well, join us as we examine the relevant laws and conventions on the incident below.
Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
The most relevant law pertaining to the horrendous action made by the suspect in the viral video is voluntarily causing hurt as prescribed by Section 321 of the Penal Code below:
Based on the video, the perpetrator’s actions of repeatedly slapping the victim can be deemed as being in line with what the above provision considers as voluntarily causing hurt. Accordingly, the suspect can be charged under Section 323 of the Penal Code below:
Should the perpetrator be charged under this provision and be found guilty, he faces imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to RM2,000 or both.
With that being said, it is now up to PDRM to conduct investigations and provide their findings to the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) for further action. However, since the suspect is a high-ranking police officer, the whole process should be made as transparent as possible to eliminate any suspicion of bias by the public.
In lieu of the circumstances, despite the suspect’s alleged high-ranking status in PDRM, there is no special treatment available to him in the eyes of the law. As the saying goes, no one is above the law.
However, given the suspect is allegedly a civil servant, he may also face disciplinary proceedings as per the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993. Nevertheless, if a criminal proceeding has been instituted against a civil servant and is still pending, the aforementioned disciplinary proceedings couldn’t be established unless it is for a different issue.
This is in line with Section 30 of the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 which prescribes:
“(1) Where criminal proceedings have been instituted against an officer and are still pending, no disciplinary action shall be taken against the officer based on the same grounds as the criminal charge in the criminal proceedings.
“(2) Nothing in subregulation (1) shall be construed so as to prevent disciplinary action from being taken against the officer during the pendency of such criminal proceedings if the action is based on any other ground arising out of his conduct in the performance of his duties”
The victim can initiate a civil suit against the suspect
Besides that, the victim in the video can also lodge a civil suit against the perpetrator to seek personal loss or damages incurred, usually due to injuries suffered as a result of the incident. In certain special circumstances, one can also apply for a special injunction that prohibits the individual from being physically close to them.
As such can be done concurrently or separately from the police investigation and the police report itself can be used as written documentation for reference and evidence during the civil suit. The most probable action that can be taken is under tort law, specifically the Tort of Assault and Battery.
So, what’s the difference between assault and battery? Well, battery occurs when an individual intentionally touches another person with force in a harmful manner without the person’s permission. Meanwhile, assault occurs when an individual acts and intends to cause apprehension or harmful contact, either verbal or physical. In assault, the threat must be imminent.
Moving forward, let this incident be a reminder to all Malaysians that no one is above the law. To further showcase this, it is hoped that PDRM and the Home Ministry could create a more refined and transparent process when alleged misconduct or crimes were committed by those in the uniformed body.