Demo policeman used “reasonable force”

Sweden's Supreme Court has found a policeman not guilty of professional misconduct for pressing a 17 year old girl up against a railing during a violent demonstration in central Stockholm.

The office of the prosecutor general wanted him convicted for using more force than was “reasonable or defensible”.

On May 1st 2003, Reclaim the City organised a demonstration in Stureplan in Stockholm. The demonstration degenerated into a riot.

The 17 year old girl was on her way to the underground station to go home, when police arrested a suspected ringleader in the vicinity of the girl and her friends.

The youths complained to the police about the arrest and were told to leave the area. The girl then gave the policeman ‘the finger’, whereupon he chased after her and pressed her up against a railing. The event was videotaped by another demonstrator and the film forms part of the evidence.

The Supreme Court said that considering the circumstances at the scene it must be considered defensible that the policeman had forced the 17 year old up against the railing.

Events were developing quickly and it was not possible to draw any conclusions about the degree of force used by the policeman from the videotape.

It was not proven that the force used by the policeman was inconsistent with police legislation and, said the court, he did not act without care in exercising his responsibility.

The policeman had already been found not guilty by the lower courts.