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Police probed over high-speed chase drownings

13 Mar 2013, 07:17

Published: 13 Mar 2013 07:17 GMT+01:00

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The incident took place on Monday night as police were chasing the suspected thieves, who had been reported for driving off from a petrol station near Uppsala in eastern Sweden without paying.

In an effort to stop the suspects' escape, police called ahead to operators of Hjulstabron, a drawbridge near Enköping that was open at the time for passing boats, and demanded that they close the entrance.

But the thieves either didn't slow down or decided to crash through the barricades and then drove off the open bridge and into the icy waters below.

Divers recovered the bodies of the two suspects, a 20-year-old father and his 21-year-old friend, early Tuesday morning.

"They clearly tried to use the bridge as a fixed barricade. There are guidelines for how police should act in such situations. Whomever they are following should be warned and signaled properly. As far as I can tell, that wasn't done," prosecutor Håkan Roswall told the TT news agency.

Possible charges facing the officers include professional misconduct and possibly manslaughter.

According to police guidelines, a vehicle being pursued should be warned at least 250 metres ahead of a fixed barricade. In addition, a police car should be parked near the barricade with blue lights flashing.

"Having a boom with a red light isn't enough," said Roswall, referring to the barrier that normally warns vehicles not to cross the bridge when it is open for boat traffic.

The prosecutor also expressed his scepticism about the officers' methods.

"These people were suspected of stealing petrol. To engage in a pursuit that ends like this makes one wonder if the officers exercised good judgment," said Roswall.

Criminal justice expert and criminology professor Jerzy Sarnecki was also critical of how the police conducted their pursuit.

"It's a horrible tragedy. Police are supposed to catch criminals, but they should never put someone's life at risk," he told TT.

Story continues below…

He admitted, however, it's hard to be certain about whether the officers made the right choices.

"If police had a decent chance of knowing what might happen, then they have committed professional misconduct," said Sarnecki.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

08:01 March 13, 2013 by StockholmSam
If these id0ts don't stop for police sirens, then it is logical to suspect that they might be involved in bigger crimes than just petrol thievery. What if the back seats were filled with cocaine? What if there were a dead body in the trunk? Or a kidnapped schoolgirl? What if the driver was a wanted criminal? This is an unfortunate result, but I don't think we want the cops to just give up every time someone refuses to stop.
08:28 March 13, 2013 by rob582
Darwinism at its best.
09:00 March 13, 2013 by Abe L
It disgusts me that the prosecutors have launched a "preliminary criminal investigation". For once the police does their bloody job with the BEST outcome possible, the criminals where dealt with and will not cost taxpayers money on trials and locking up and we go and prosecute them. These guys need to be given a medal and a raise.

The whole reason criminals in this country believe they can get away with such crimes is because the policy running of a very short leash all the time (with the exception of speeding and parking tickets).
12:20 March 13, 2013 by Scepticion
" "Having a boom with a red light isn't enough," said Roswall, referring to the barrier that normally warns vehicles not to cross the bridge.."

Hmm, so as a normal citizen, the boom and red light is supposed to be enough, while criminals need extra pampering with an extra warning sign and police car. What kind of discrimination is that against normal citizens.
13:03 March 13, 2013 by shannona
''Petrol thieves'' don't evade police like this. These criminals made all the bad choices; stealing, evading and refusing to stop at a bridge barricade.

I feel safer with police such as these on the streets. Police must be able to have some authority otherwise, what's the point?
13:12 March 13, 2013 by Reason and Realism
And if the thieves had instead driven through a barricade at a railway crossing and gotten hit by a train, would this also be grounds for manslaughter charges against the officers?

Stops signs mean 'stop'. Red lights mean 'stop'. Lowered barricades in front of railway crossings and raised bridges mean 'stop'. The bridge was not a police barricade, it was a bridge that was closed to traffic with appropriate signage and lights and a lowered barrier. The thieves knew this and decided to act like imbeciles anyway.

That the police are now facing possible charges here is another classic example of Sweden being heaven on Earth for criminals, the land of rights without responsibilities. My condolences go to the police officers for the legal harrassment they will now face.
15:20 March 13, 2013 by Peter Thomas
I like the comment 'Whomever they are following should be warned and signaled properly. As far as I can tell, that wasn't done," prosecutor Håkan Roswall.

Urm, I think the officers chasing them in a car with blue lights and sirens sounding might have been a bit of a warning that they were doing something wrong and should stop.
18:04 March 13, 2013 by StockholmSam
Here is Håkan Roswel's Facebook page. I encourage everyone to send him a message voicing your support of the policemen and a rejection of his waste of taxpayer funds.

23:48 March 13, 2013 by Rey Stockholm
Dont rob petrol stations and run from the police - simple
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