On October 4th 2004, police received reports from a hotel in Oslo of a psychotic man under the influence of drugs. Three patrols consisting of a total of seven officers arrived at the scene to arrest the man, who turned out to be a Swedish construction worker.
When he resisted arrest and pepper spray failed to pacify him, police wrestled the man to the ground, handcuffed him and placed shackles on his feet.
Fearing that the 44-year-old might be carrying an contagious disease, the officers covered his face with a hood to prevent him from spitting at them or biting them. Police had found the hood on a jacket in the man’s hotel room.
He was then removed from the hotel and positioned face down on the back seat of a police car.
During the journey to a nearby hospital one of the officers heard the Swede take a deep breath. When he was handed over to the doctor on duty, the 44-year-old was lifeless and blue in the face. One hour later he was declared dead, according to a confidential report obtained by Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen.
“Nobody checked that he was breathing during all of that time. I think the police have displayed indifference towards his life,” Per Gröndal, a lawyer acting on behalf of the victim’s mother, told Aftonbladet.
According to Dagsavisen, details of the arrest were shrouded in mystery until the public prosecutor last year ordered Oslo police to pay a 50,000 kronor fine for having caused the death.
But the Norwegian police union claims that the matter came to light at the time of the man’s death.
“It was known in 2004 that a man had died during a police operation, although not that he had suffocated,” union chairman Arne Johannessen told news agency NTB.