Prosecutors in Sweden are investigating the fatal police shooting of a 20-year-old man with Down syndrome who was reported to have been carrying a plastic toy gun.
The shooting, which occurred early Thursday in central Stockholm, was carried out by at least two officers, according to the prosecutor in charge of the probe, Martin Tiden.
“The man held a weapon-like object and officers opened fire after judging the situation as threatening,” Tiden said on Friday, adding that the object was later established to have been “some kind of toy.”
Tiden called the investigation “routine,” because such probes take place in Sweden whenever police officers use their firearms. No foul play was suspected on the part of any officers, he said.
‘The world’s sweetest person’
The dead man, named as Eric Torell, who also suffered from a form of autism, had run away from his father’s flat early on Thursday, taking with the toy gun with him. He died of his injuries shortly after being fired upon by police.
Torell’s mother told the Expressen newspaper that her son was “the world’s sweetest and most lovable person” and that he was “incredibly social” despite having great difficulty in speaking. She said the plastic toy had resembled a submachine gun.
The chief of Stockholm regional police, Ulf Johansson, called the shooting “a terrible event.”
Although he would not comment on the probe, he said that “from experience, very difficult decisions must sometimes be made in unclear and hard-pressed situations” within seconds.
The death brings to six the number of people shot dead by police in Sweden so far this year. As a comparison, 599 people have been fatally shot by US police in the same time period, according to the “Fatal Force” database run by The Washington Post.
tj/rt (dpa, AP)