Stockholm cop probed over pre-riot killing

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Stockholm cop probed over pre-riot killing

The Stockholm police officer who fatally shot a 69-year-old man in Husby, an incident cited as the spark that ignited last week's widespread unrest in Stockholm, is suspected of manslaughter and has been assigned a public defence lawyer.


"A public defence lawyer was appointed on May 23rd and the police officer is suspected of manslaughter," police spokesman Håkan Roswall told Sveriges Television (SVT) on Tuesday.

Stockholm police spokesperson Kjell Lindgren said he could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

"We don't like when people do other investigations in the media - because then we can't do it ourselves," he said.

Police were called to an address in Husby on May 13th after residents in the neighbourhood reportedly said they felt threatened by the man who was holding what appeared to be a machete.

Police eventually stormed the man's apartment, reporting that they first tried to subdue him with a flash grenade. The measure proved unsuccessful, according to police, with one officer opening fire and fatally shooting the man.

On Tuesday, however, the Finnish Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL) reported that the victim, reportedly a Portuguese man married to a Finnish woman, may have been wielding a puukko knife, a traditional hunting knife.

The wife's Finland-based brother Risto Kajanto told the newspaper he was shocked to hear his brother-in-law had been shot by the police in the Stockholm suburb.

"I didn't believe that it could be true, I only believed it once I'd read about it in the paper," he told HBL.

He described his brother-in-law as a slight man who was not aggressive.

He further said that his sister and brother-in-law had been threatened by a gang on their way home from a restaurant on the night in question.

"Her husband went to get a knife to scare them off. He collected puukko knives, it wasn't a machete like the newspaper have reported," Kajanto told HBL.

"He stepped out on the balcony with the knife in his hand and hope the gang would disappear."

He said that once the police were called to the scene, his Husby-based relatives were not sure that it was actual police officers by the door, or the gang pretending to be law enforcers.

Kajanto added he had no information about how his brother-in-law acted once he came into contact with the police, who shot the 69-year-old to death. The Swedish police have later said he acted in a threatening manner.

"They shot him in the head. My sister saw it with her own eyes," he told the paper.

The police later filed a report saying the man was taken to hospital where he died, a piece of information hotly contested by residents who said a hearse came to pick up the already dead man at 2am.

The police amended its official version of events.

"It was a misunderstanding and we have apologized," police spokesman Lindgren told SVT.

"But due to these speculations, it is very important that there is an investigation."

The killing of the 69-year-old man and accusations that police had attempted to hide the truth angered local community leaders and many residents in Husby who felt the police used excessive force.

Activists organized a rally on the evening of May 19th to demonstrate against the perceived police brutality.

The march later spiraled into violence that led to a week of nightly disturbances that left dozens of cars and several buildings burned in a number of Stockholm suburbs.

By the end of last week, the unrest had spread to other cities in Sweden before subsiding at the close of the weekend, due in part to a beefed up police presence as well as an increase in the number of local residents patrolling their neighbourhoods.

The Local/at

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