• Sweden edition
 

Johan, 24, suffocated to death by police

Published: 06 Oct 2009 09:35 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Oct 2009 09:35 GMT+02:00

A 24-year-old man died in Gothenburg died last April as a direct result of injuries sustained at the hands of police officers. But none of the officers involved have been held accountable as prosecutors failed to follow up on the case, according to the findings of a Sveriges Radio report.

A post mortem examination confirmed that Johan Liljeqvist's death resulted from suffocation after he was pinned to the ground with such force and for so long that he eventually stopped breathing. He was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries, reports Sveriges Radio's news programme Ekot following a review of a preliminary investigation that was abandoned by prosecutors.

The 24-year-old was arrested in Gothenburg in April last year for kicking a car. A witness told Sveriges Radio that Liljeqvist was held down by an estimated four police officers who pressed their knees into the victim's back to prevent him from moving.

Prosecutor Bo Lindgren conceded that important details had been set aside in the investigation and that not all police officers present at the scene were questioned in connection with the death, as he had previously claimed.

"I can admit that I might have gone awry there," he told Sveriges Radio.

Swedish police altered their procedures following the death in police arrest of 41-year-old Osmo Vallo in Karlstad in 1995. Since then it has been well known in police circles that there is a serious risk of death by suffocation if a handcuffed suspect is held face down with pressure on the upper body.

"All officers who have completed their police training in the last ten or eleven years are fully aware of this problem," Björn Jacobson at the Swedish National Police Academy told Sveriges Radio, adding that older officers had also been brought up to the date with the dangers inherent in the technique.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:32 October 6, 2009 by insect
Johan is dead because he 'kicked' a f@#&%¤g car???? I dont believe this.
11:14 October 6, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
Just remember Mr. Insect that we have been given very little info in this news article! Would it have been clearer for you if the article had said he was killing butterflies?

It was not the act of kicking the car; it was Johan's uncontrolled actions that lead to his death! I would say that if an ESTIMATED 4 POLICE OFFICERS were needed to hold this man down, that he was TOTALLY out of control!!!! Drugs like PCP can cause VIOLENT SUPERHUMAN reactions that make it almost impossible for even 2 people working together to control the druggie.

At the end of the day, the police officer MUST go home, so they need to do WHATEVER it takes to ensure their safety, the public safety, and then the safety of their prisoners.

The hardest part of a police officers job is trying to control someone who is out of control. You do not want to be injured and you do not want to injure the person you are trying to control. It is one of the worst situations faced by the police. This is why the police keep trying new ideas to help them subdue someone. The stunguns are a good example. I remember when the choke hold was popular.

Yes it is sad that Johan is dead but I feel sorry for the cops who were involved! Do you think they WANTED to kill him?

I have been in these kinds of crazy violent human situations and I have rarely seen an outcome where no one is injured.
10:59 October 7, 2009 by Nilspet
There is pepper spray etc etc. IF there are 4 police officers and they needed to press Johan with their knees then they are not qualified police officers. This is unacceptable.
13:42 October 7, 2009 by insect
Damn Immigrant

I don't know why you think the news article doesn't have sufficient information. Actually the only people in this story who were having uncontrolled reactions were the police. Nowhere in the story does it mention that Johan had resisted arrest. Maybe he was unlucky to meet officers who were just at the end of their tether and we all know that sometimes police officers tend to overreact especially when in a group.

And one should not do their job shoddily because they MUST GO HOME.

1. The post mortem examination confirmed that Johan Liljeqvist's death resulted from suffocation after he was pinned to the ground with such force and for so long that he eventually stopped breathing.

2. Since 1995 it has been well known in police circles that there is a serious risk of death by suffocation if a handcuffed suspect is held face down with pressure on the upper body.

If they had already handcuffed the guy, then why was it necessary to continue using so much force on him. Even their boss says he didn't follow procedure properly by not interviewing all the policemen involved in the incident.

It is a simple fact. All Johan did was kick a car for crying out loud. A rapist deserves to die like that, not someone who attacks something material like a car. PS: Kicking it would only at least have dented the body, nothing else.

I dont think they wanted to kill him, but they ignored previous training and ended up killing him. That is the sad fact.
21:22 October 8, 2009 by Nilspet
Police officers who killed must be prosecuted. They cannot get away with that.
16:32 October 12, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
I have to remember that most people judge the police, and other government authorities, in the context of the countries (and the communities) where they came from! "IF" the police where you came from were basically corrupt mafia types, then where ever you go, you will see the police that way! I on the other hand try to observe what is going on around me without prejudice. I have lived in Sweden for 10 years now and have seen nothing to indicate the Swedish police are corrupt, violent and unprofessional. I know there are some bad officers out there, but on the whole, I have found nothing that causes me not to trust the Swedish police!

@Nilspet - "There is pepper spray etc etc. IF there are 4 police officers and they needed to press Johan with their knees then they are not qualified police officers. This is unacceptable. ... Police officers who killed must be prosecuted."

What is unacceptable is judging a situation with insufficient information! To NOT know the facts of a situation and to claim that "they are not qualified police officers" is to show ignorance of what real police work is all about! It can be VERY violent and VERY dangerous! Nilspet, you are wrong because the Police officers who killed must be INVESTIGATED!! "IF" their actions were done with malicious intent, with malice a forethought, THEN they need to be prosecuted!

It is very interesting the "MYTHS" that the general population have concerning the world around them. I grew up "KNOWING" with absolute certainty that police brutality was a something that the criminals accused the police of doing! I was absolutely certain that there could not be such a thing as police brutality! Then, after moving away from home, and living in a border community in a large city, I saw my >FIRST< case of UNPROVOKED police brutality! I learned a lot from that incident and continued to see and experience even more unprofessional behavior as well as VERY PROFESSIONAL police behavior.

The fact that I walked away from all of these incidents with was, that second guessing the actions of the police usually proved wrong! If you were NOT there experiencing the actions FIRST HAND, there really is no way to know for certain what really went down. Like I said, The hardest part of a police officers job is trying to control someone who is out of control. It is one of the worst situations faced by the police. This is why the police keep trying new ideas to help them subdue someone.

Yes PEPPER spray will work on MOST "NORMAL" people, but there are other people who eat the stuff for breakfast and then there are those people who are SO out of their minds that Pepper Spay and even Stun Guns will have little effect! In fact with a totally out of control person, Pepper Spray will not subdue them; it can do the opposite and will actually make them even more angry!

Sorry but this is the FACT that counteracts your Pepper Spray MYTH!

@insect - "I don't know why you think the news article doesn't have sufficient information." >>Insect, my experience told me!

@insect - "Nowhere in the story does it mention that Johan had resisted arrest." >>RIGHT! Like I said, INSUFFICIENT information in the story!

My first observation, that this news article was missing critical information, is the fact that I have noticed the Swedish police seem to travel in PAIRS! The fact that there was AT LEAST 4 offices there meant that the first officers had to call for BACKUP! The fact that there could have been more than 4 officers on the scene means that they called for A LOT of backup which means that the situation was TOTALLY out of control!!! No mention of any of this in the article!

The FACT that it required 4 officers to hold him down also told me that he was resisting arrest, because I do not believe the Swedish police are EVIL!!!!

@insect - "... we all know that sometimes police officers tend to overreact especially when in a group." >>Yes! I am NOT discounting the fact that the police are human or that the group dynamics may have played a part in this tragedy but it has also been my experience that actual police brutality occurs when there are no witnesses, including other officers! Group dynamics can also work to help control a situation! My experience tells me that the BEATING this poor man got from the police combined with the fact that it took at least 4 of them to hold him down, tells me that this guy was OUT OF HIS FRACKING MIND!!!! SUPERHUMAN out of his mind!!!!

But see, this is where someones culture comes in! If you truly believe that the police are a power hungry corrupt group, you will only assume the victim was totally innocent!

I, on the other hand, do not feel the Swedish police are out of control! So when a situation like this occurs, I have to ask, what is this news article was not telling us!?!?

@insect - "... should not do their job shoddily because they MUST GO HOME." >>Again, judging shoddy work has no basis of understanding for what really transpired! And yes, at the end of the day, they must go home!

Real life experience - I hope that at some point in your life, you and your friends are NOT confronted with a situation like this! You guys are the ONLY ones who can stop some out of control maniac because the police are not available! You and your friends have to handle the situation. Are only ONE of you going to face this superhuman maniac while the others stand back and watch or are all of you going to try to work together to bring this person down? Once you have this superhuman person on the ground, are the rest of the buddies going to get up because the maniac is down? NO!!! You will ALL still be holding the maniac down until help arrives! Hopefully the maniac will still be breathing went help arrives! Unfortunately, I have seen it where the person is NOT breathing! And YES drugs were involved!

@insect - "1. The post mortem examination confirmed ... 2. Since 1995 it has been well known in police circles that ..." >>It would have been great if this article had mentioned that the post mortem showed the victim was badly beaten and that indeed the victim was on LSD! (got that from another article).

So for ALL of the training the police have, how do you think the police will react when faced with a situation that does NOT respond as per how their training says the criminal should be responding? Pepper Spray SHOULD stop him - NOPE!, only seemed to get more angry!, Stun Guns are not working because can't get close enough! Tassers are not working because he keeps pulling them out before we can implant more of them to do any real damage! Hitting him with the club should be enough to stop him BUT NO!, they seem to have NO effect no matter how hard we hit him!!!! SUPERHUMAN AND OUT OF CONTROL!!!

@insect - "If they had already handcuffed the guy, then why was it necessary to continue using so much force on him." >>Oh, right, the handcuff MYTH! Yes, handcuffs work to control most normal situations!

Superhuman out of control, feeling no pain, means nothing when handcuffed! I have seen someone almost ripe their thumb off pulling handcuffs off! They only work because MOST people are afraid of the pain they will encounter when they fight to get out of them. Feel no pain and the cuffs are worthless. Besides, do you know what kind of damage you can cause with your hands tied behind your back? This victim would have required LEGCUFFS too!

@insect - "All Johan did was kick a car for crying out loud." >>Got that from this news article did you? Not a really good news article that leaves out the part that Johan was out of his mind on LSD! Like I said, would it have been more clear if he had been killing butterflies?

It was NOT the act! It was his ACTIONS!!! It is sad that you really believe the Swedish police behave in this manner! Try not to believe everything you read!

IMHO, Johan is dead because his actions were the actions of someone who was terribly OUT OF CONTROL. Again, not really knowing the specifics in this case, I believe the police did everything in their power to stop this DRUG CRAZED SUPERHUMAN MADMAN!!! When their police training failed them, they continued to do their job to the best of their abilities!

@insect - "A rapist deserves to die like that, not someone who attacks something material like a car. PS: Kicking it would only at least have dented the body, nothing else." >>NO ONE deserves to die like this!!!

Insect, are you starting to get the idea that the CAR had NOTHING to do with his death?

It is too bad that this news article makes it sound like the incompetent, out of control police brutally killed an otherwise normal John Doe citizen, just for kicking a car!
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