• Sweden's news in English

'Cowboy' police slammed after Stockholm shootout

The Local/og · 13 Mar 2012, 09:06

Published: 13 Mar 2012 09:06 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A total of 16 shots were fired in the incident, with all the bullets coming from guns fired by the police.

At first it was believed that the March 6th shootout in Stockholm's upscale Östermalm district was a reaction by police when the criminals opened fire.

A subsequent investigation has revealed, however, that the robbers never fired any shots, and it is in fact unknown if they were even in possession of any weapons.

“If the data is correct, one or more police officers behaved like American cowboys. This is extremely serious,” said criminologist Jerzy Sarnecki to Metro newspaper.

“Even if police officers have perceived the situation as extremely dangerous they still can’t just shoot this way. It simply cannot occur.”

Sarnecki continued to point out that such an incident raises further questions about the competence of the Swedish police force.

“What sort of police force do we have in this country? What sort of instructions do they get? Does the training and leadership work?” he said to the paper.

Ten of the shots fired by police went directly through the window of a nearby gym, coming dangerously close to injuring people who were training at the time. No one was injured, however.

The revelations about police officers being the only ones firing shots came during an Sveriges Television (SVT) interview with prosecutor Katarina Bergström.

When consulted whether this was a necessary action, Bergström hinted the officers' actions may not have been warranted.

“I have no information saying that they should have," she told SVT.

Story continues below…

After the shootout, three men were arrested by police.

The police have since launched an investigation into the matter.

The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:41 March 13, 2012 by SvenskaNoob
At least nobody was hurt. LOL!
09:41 March 13, 2012 by gpafledthis
Ok Ok !! Exile these badboys to Malmo !! Where they will be appreciated !! OR don't want em at all?? Do send them them to us(US) of course we would have to teach them (1 shot 1 kill) We value our windows more than our creeps !! Why not headline 3 crooks captured-- cops missed in small print ? Any investigation should refer to-they missed!!
10:08 March 13, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Headline should read: "Criminologist condemns police, no comment on captured criminals".
10:16 March 13, 2012 by Lukas Stockholm
What kind of translation into English is this? Sounds extremly Svengelsk, as if it has been directly translated word by word from Swedish. Needs to be changed.

"What do we have for police in this country? What do they get for instructions?

(Vad har vi for polis i det har landet? Vad far de for instruktioner?)


``What kind of policeforce do we have in this country? What kind of instructions do they get?

10:24 March 13, 2012 by asteriks
Cops are more dangerous for society than criminals. By the way, cops get macho instructions and they behave like that. From macho to cowboy is tiny line.
10:26 March 13, 2012 by Borilla
I stand corrected as to the firing of shots. If the police were not returning fire, then they were clearly wrong to start shooting. I do, however, reiterate my view that the Stockholm (Swedish) police forces are nothing more than village policemen, far out of their depth and ill-trained to deal with anything other than a Saturday night drunk, if that. It also begins to be clear that local crooks , and those from other countries, are realizing this fact and taking advantage of it; viz, the "helicopter robbery".
10:40 March 13, 2012 by BillyB
@Lukas...you need to get out more.
10:41 March 13, 2012 by viper
so "Benny - the cop" thing is a true story.
10:57 March 13, 2012 by johan rebel
Oh boy, here we go again: armchair expert condemns the police!

I assume Mr. Sarnecki has extensive first-hand experience in dealing with dangerous armed robbers, making split-second decisions, etc?

The only thing that is not surprsing here is that the cops did not hit their targets. They really need to practice a lot more.
10:57 March 13, 2012 by 4thGenWarrior
Having had worked with the Swedish police before on a few cases I can tell you it is not unforeseen that such an incident as this could or would happen. These men and women have the sad position of living in a country that is aggressively anti-gun. In the individual mind of the officer they always have that child-like mentality of "I know I am doing something Mom and Dad (Society) tells me is wrong and I should not be doing this (using a gun)." When one has that mindset they can never really become comfortable with a weapon and therefore will always be a danger to themselves and others. Having observed these officers use their sidearms, they reminded me of the new Boy Scouts who got their first taste of firing the .22 rifle. It was amusing. I think it was this lack of comfortability that lends to these types of incidents.

Furthermore, Swedish police are trained to draw their weapons with their firing hand and cock the weapon with their other hand, in one fluid motion. Additionally, they are instructed to fire a warning shot into the ground to demonstrate to the subject they intend to shoot them. This weapons tactics is infantile. Firstly, by taking a hand off the gun it turns the muzzle away from the subject and to innocent bystanders all while cocking the gun, which could likely lead to a misfire into the afromentioned crowd of spectators. That pre-cocking is a horrible idea- tactically. Secondly, firing a warning shot into the ground could ricochet and hit someone- again tactically retarded. But I guess that is type of training you get from a country who proclaims defending family is a good enough reason for owning a firearm.
10:58 March 13, 2012 by skogsbo
Sounds like attempted murder, what would happen if it was other way around? Plus 8 shots, when not being shot at, they still didn't kill any of them. Back to range practice, eye test, or just take the weapon off them.
10:59 March 13, 2012 by cattie
I did have a reaction when I read the headline in the paper this morning.

Just to re-emphasize, my opinion is that the Stockholm police need to develope more experienced and measured practices, in the interest of public safety. Public safety should be the main objective of every police force.

The police should not escalate such situations. Give Swedish officers better training to respond to violent crime while minimizing the hazards for bystanders. Swedish police may not have enough experience in dealing with violent armed criminals--but the money must be allocated for proper training.

It is long past the time to give up the denial that "it does not happen in Sweden"

Give the police the tools they need to deal with increasing violent crime.

Police work is a profession these skills can be learned, it is time NOW, before a tragic cross-fire death of a civilian.
11:29 March 13, 2012 by ameribrit
I would just like to point out many of those "American cowboys" from the old west were in fact Swedish immigrants in the first place. Just saying... :-))
11:31 March 13, 2012 by OUIJA
When the first story was published about a week ago, I clearly stated that the police was responsible for shooting against the crystals of the gym. It could have never happened otherwise. The bandits were there and the "police" started shooting at them.

Now, it even looks like the bandits did not even had guns and for that reason they never shoot at the police.

My sources told me that all of the shells found in the area, belong to the Swedish arms. No other type of shells have been found.

Police "officers" were extremely lucky that they did not kill any of the women who were inside the gym fixing their things to start training.

Responsibles within the Swedish police will only get a "warning" and we will see them training again how to shoot against unarmed people.
11:31 March 13, 2012 by adshasta
I agree with cattle all the way and leave my cowboys out of it.
11:35 March 13, 2012 by Larry Thrash
The American cowboy wasn't and isn't violent. It's a stereotype that suits a political end. Could we brand them as "Arab terrorist"? Of course not, it's not "politically correct". This criminologist is a joke, he has no business making such an unprofessional comment.
11:58 March 13, 2012 by occassional
To server and protect, right? Yeah.
12:26 March 13, 2012 by Mib
10 shots into a gym sounds like they were drunk. They totally missed their targets and by utter fluke didn't injure or kill anyone. Lucky for them.....had they killed an innocent bystander....would the truth have come out? The only positive from this is that criminals may think again about committing a crime when you have a bunch of kids in police uniform loose with guns. Frightening that in a civilised society...that idiots can be let loose with guns.
12:46 March 13, 2012 by AmericanCowboy
Better than callilng them American Cowboys or Arab Terrorists. Call them what they are, Out Of Control Swedes. Because they are. Or maybe the gang of Swedes who couldn;t shoot straight.
12:52 March 13, 2012 by Lyapunov
"and it is in fact unknown if they [the robbers] were even in possession of any weapons" Can we please check this first ? The situation changes depending on the answer. Being threatened by a robber holding a weapon may warrant the first shot by the police.
13:18 March 13, 2012 by Achilles7
Oh dear, here we go again. The cops become the criminals and the criminals become the victims in this society turned upside down.

Re. Message no. 5 - what a stupid thing to say. The police are there to help the innocent and prevent crime. If you ever get robbed, who are you going to call?

These people shouldn't have been robbing a jewellery shop in the first place. Let's get our priorities straight here!
13:26 March 13, 2012 by notpresto
I am not really that fond of going to the gym either
14:02 March 13, 2012 by eppie
@achilles 7

Thank you for your brilliant contribution.

We have established that robbing is bad....and all thanks to you!!!

I was still under the impression that robbing was kind of funny until I read your comment. How can I thank you for enlightening me?
14:09 March 13, 2012 by RobinHood
Sixteen shots and they didn't hit anybody. They would have fired more, but several officers had left their guns in IKEA. Do the Swedish police receive any firearms training at all?

All for the best I suppose. The safest place to be when a Swedish policeman has actually remembered where he/she left his/her weapon is right in front of him/her.
14:19 March 13, 2012 by Åskar
@Larry Thrash

You are obviously not familiar with what connotations the word "cowboy" has outside the USA.
16:20 March 13, 2012 by tadchem
Ten of sixteen shots fired hit the wrong BUILDING!

These fools were obviously not hired for their competence.
16:37 March 13, 2012 by p201055r
Some thoughts, courtesy of UN HCHR website:-

3. The development & deployment of non-lethal incapacitating weapons should be carefully evaluated .....

4. Law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.

5. Whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall:

( a ) Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence...;

( b ) Minimize damage and injury......;



7. Governments shall ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offence under their law.

8. Exceptional circumstances such as internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked to justify any departure from these basic principles.

Special provisions

9. Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.

10. In the circumstances provided for under principle 9, law enforcement officials shall identify themselves as such and give a clear warning of their intent to use firearms, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed, unless to do so would unduly place the law enforcement officials at risk or would create a risk of death or serious harm to other persons, or would be clearly inappropriate or pointless in the circumstances of the incident.

11. Rules and regulations on the use of firearms by law enforcement officials should include guidelines that:

( a ) Specify the circumstances under which law enforcement officials are authorized to carry firearms and prescribe the types of firearms and ammunition permitted;

( b ) Ensure that firearms are used only in appropriate circumstances and in a manner likely to decrease the risk of unnecessary harm;

( d ) Regulate the control, storage and issuing of firearms, including procedures for ensuring that law enforcement officials are accountable for the firearms and ammunition issued to them;

( e ) Provide for warnings to be given, if appropriate, when firearms are to be discharged;
16:53 March 13, 2012 by babashki
How to avoid being shot : Run in a Zig zag motion

How to avoid being shot by Swedish Police officers : Run in a straight line
17:11 March 13, 2012 by p201055r
or....(follow on from msg 28)

Safest place to be when Polis are shooting - wherever they're aiming!

And such may be an unfortunate consequence of this apparently one-sided shoot-out.

Ne'er do wells may be more likely to take on the Polis in the near certainty that if fired upon, they will be safe from injury.


The undoubted backlash from this (from the Polis point of view) will result in a tightening up of the circumstances and procedures in which they may draw and use their pistols.
18:32 March 13, 2012 by Gjeebes
Interesting how the focus seems to be only with police action. What about the idiots robbing the store, or has everyone forgotten about them? If you get into the grand larceny business, be prepared to be shot at. Yes, Sweden, it is inhumane (perhaps), and yes, we know, everyone needs more counseling blah blah blah, but, Police have guns, and they will use them if you are stealing jewels or doing whatever other idiotic crime. Maybe not the best scene to have but that is how it is. Granted, the Police do seem to embarrass themselves here, if the report is accurate. But what if they actually did hit and kill one or all of the perpetrators? Probably Police would then be given wet newspapers to throw at criminals, and all guns would be destroyed in this ever so "progressive" "country".
19:19 March 13, 2012 by Dazzler
The Polis should thank whatever deity they choose that serious criminals havent figured out what a pushover this country and its laws are.
20:42 March 13, 2012 by OUIJA
One prosecutor -I read- is trying to justify the shooting of the police by saying that the bandits shot with a start pistol, the one used to signal the starting of a race in athletism.

Well, well. As I said someplace along this thread, the police will be exonerated, congratulated and nothing happened.

But let us analize the following:

1.- They did not find shells on the floor, other than the ones belonging to the police arms.

2.- They did not find bullets across the street, in front of the gym. When Palme was murdered in 1986, an Indian foreign correspondent, Alfred De Tavares, found one of the bullets that were shot by the one who killed Palme and hurt his wife Lisbeth.

Ergo: The robbers did not shoot any weapon at all and the police panicked and start shooting wildly, just in case. The end of the story is not near at all. They will take as long as it takes to exonerate the police at all cost.
23:33 March 13, 2012 by blursd
I don't know the "American Cowboy" analogy is correct ... Cowboys traditionally HIT what they're shooting at. In fact, they're rather well renowned for their marksmanship ...
00:21 March 14, 2012 by Da Goat
@ Ouija the crims might have used revolvers that do not eject shells and the investigators did not look behind them, or maybe they had revolver starter pistols (bluff) and the police did not take any chances.

the thing that is worrisome is that the crims were not hit by all (any) those bullets, maybe the police have friends in the glass business!
06:56 March 14, 2012 by OUIJA
@Da Goat # 34

Bingo! They used the revolver that was used to kill Palme. The police could not find the robbers to shoot at them because they were invisible. The police just practiced to see if their weapons were functioning and the prosecutor has the glass business.

You see? We solved the mistery of the inefficient Swedish police; the cowboy imitators, because, as written by @blursd #33, cowboys traditionally hit what they were shooting at.
10:17 March 14, 2012 by stevo1
police NEED to shoot first and ask questions later in this country.

Criminals have free reign and dont see the Swedish Police as an authority worth worrying about.

If criminologists are so worried, why give Police guns in the first place. BTW, criminologists are people who failed the entrance exam into the Police in the first place, or just dont have the balls for the work to begin with.

Also, we should see how well bloggers here aim there weapons when adrenaline is flowing, it is easy to hit a target in a controlled firing range, totally different when you are scared for your life, or others lives!

A little perspective is called for, remember newspapers write articles to shock to get readers reading articles, it is rare that all the truth is published.

It is easy to criticize in hind sight, just wait until one of you is a victim and then we will see everyone crying because the Police did not use reasonable force.

Well Done Stockholm Police, you have my vote!
Today's headlines
Swedish photographer shot near Mosul
Hansen was being operated on in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday. Photo: Nora Lorek/ TT

Paul Hansen, a photographer working for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, has sustained light injuries after being hit by what appears to be a sniper while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Sweden wants emission-free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Hundreds protest Swedish asylum laws
Around 1,000 people protested in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday demonstrated in Stockholm and in many other parts of the country to protest Sweden’s tough new laws on asylum-seekers.

Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available