Stockholm cop charged over 'cowboy' shootout
Published: 03 Oct 2012 07:14 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Oct 2012 07:14 GMT+02:00
Criminal charges were filed on Tuesday against a Stockholm police officer who shot wildly at a gang of thieves as they attempted to flee after robbing a jewellery shop in March. It later emerged that the thieves never filed a single shot.
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The officer was charged with reckless endangerment for his actions in the incident which resulted in ten shots being fired into the Metropolis gym on Birger Jarlsgatan while several innocent bystanders looked on in horror.
"The reception area was shot to pieces. Right where we were standing, three or four shots came in," Pernilla Gunnskog, a personal trainer who worked at the gym, told the TT news agency.
Gunnskog and two colleagues were standing at the gym's reception desk on March 6th of this year when they heard a loud bang.
"I pulled the other girls to the floor. It was a survival instinct. Then things started popping like crazy. Pieces of bananas from our fruit bowl were flying and so were pieces from the wall. My first thought was that someone was on their way into the gym to shoot us," she said.
All told, the incident resulted in 18 shots being fired by police, who where later criticized for acting like "American cowboys".
On Tuesday, a 33-year-old officer who fired 12 shots – ten of which went into the gym – was charged with reckless endangerment.
According to the indictment, his actions put the lives of the women in the gym at risk.
"The women were in the line of fire. They would have been hit if they had remained standing where they were first standing," prosecutor Håkan Roswall told TT.
The three robbers, who were later sentenced to prison, didn't have real weapons, but had instead pointed a starting pistol at police, who then responded with live fire.
The attorney for the officer who has been charged told TT that his client denies committing any crime.
"A robber pointed his weapon straight at him. He has the right to defend himself and his colleagues," said defence attorney Peter Althin to TT.
According to Althing, the 33-year-old officer didn't realize there was a gym behind the robbers or that there were people inside.
Included in the evidence are film clips recorded by other witnesses to the shooting. The prosecutor intends to show that the officer who has been charged could have taken cover behind parked cars.