TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A New Taipei City police officer is being investigated for violating the Criminal Code (刑法) after he detained a foreign caregiver for not having an ID while she was taking out the garbage.
According to a Facebook post uploaded by a migrant caregiver on Monday (Aug. 16), she was accosted by a police officer that day who placed her in both handcuffs and legcuffs. She claimed that after the officer realized she was in the country legally, he dropped her by the side of the road, leaving her to have to find her own way home.
In her post, the victim said that she went downstairs to take out the trash on Monday afternoon and then stood by the side of the road as she talked to her friend on the phone in New Taipei City's Sanchong District. Suddenly, she said, a police officer yelled at her and demanded that she present her residence permit.
She responded by asking, "Who would bring an ID card when they take out the trash?"
Suspecting that she was an unaccounted for migrant worker, the officer handcuffed the woman to a chair from a 7-Eleven and made her wait by the side of the road.
She was then taken to the Sanchong Police Station, where legcuffs were placed on her ankles. When the police officer checked her records and discovered that she is a legal resident of Taiwan, he failed to offer an apology and allegedly took her away from the police station. Instead of taking her home, he dropped her off "like a bag" at the side of the road.
Because she originally had just planned to momentarily step outside to take out the trash, she did not have any money on her to take a taxi. She instead had to walk and use Google Maps to trudge her way back.
She said that she cried during the trek because she was worried about the elderly woman who was under her care. When she had stepped out, she had not locked the door and she kept worrying about "Grandma's" safety and how she would explain the situation to her employer.
Netizens were enraged by the post, making comments such as "Do the New Taipei Police rule the country?" and "What great official authorities." Some even called on New Taipei Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) to personally rectify the matter.
When Lin Ku-ting (林故廷), captain of the Sanchong Police Station, was notified of the incident, he was furious and ordered an immediate, thorough investigation into the officer's conduct, reported CNA.
Based on a preliminary investigation, the officer involved, surnamed Hsieh (謝), claimed that while he was on patrol, he noticed that the female migrant worker's eyes were moving "erratically" and her facial expression appeared abnormal. Hsieh claimed it was her demeanor that prompted him to question her.
However, he claimed that due to a language barrier, a dispute occurred and he then deemed it necessary to place the woman in handcuffs and take her back to the police station to verify her identity.
The Sanchong Police Station stated on Tuesday (Aug. 17) that after conducting an investigation overnight, it determined that Hsieh had violated law enforcement protocols. Hsieh is now under investigation by the New Taipei District Prosecutor's Office for obstruction of personal freedom (妨害自由) among other possible offenses of the Criminal Code.
Lin stated that after investigating the officer's violations, he personally explained the situation and apologized to the victim. He also reiterated that the case will be investigated in-depth and will also strengthen the education of officers to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.