Shock as policewoman beats Swedish drunk

A video clip showing a Swedish policewoman repeatedly hitting a drunken man with a baton as her police dog appears to go berserk on the streets of Stockholm has shocked experts, while the prosecutor has opened a criminal probe.

Shock as policewoman beats Swedish drunk
Shock over 'excessive force' video of Stockholm cop

"The only thing I can say is that this video gives cause to assume that the police officer has committed a crime," internal affairs prosecutor Mats Åhlund told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper after being shown a clip of the altercation that took place late on Thursday night.

"This has to investigated properly so we understand what happened before and after, but it's clear as day that there is reason to suspect that a crime took place."

The video shows a drunk man squabbling with the police officer, who has a police dog at her side. Poor audio quality makes it difficult to pick up the entire exchange, filmed by a third party, but the dog at one point leaps towards the man who in return grabs the animal by its collar.

As the man stumbles across the road with his arm outstretched, seemingly to keep the animal at bay, the policewoman takes out her baton and begins striking him while repeatedly ordering him to lie down in the street.

Once he fell to his knees, she orders the dog to sit, which it does straight away, at which point the officer puts her baton away.

A friend of the man intervenes at that point to check on the battered man on the ground, while the policewoman spokes into her radio and is heard telling command that the man threatened to "blow up the street".

"I didn't say that I would blow up the street, I said someone would," the victim was heard muttering in the video clip on the DN website, before yelling.

"Are you totally stupid or what?"

If the incident leads to charges being brought against the policewoman, she would risk a reprimand and losing her job.

After seeing the video, criminology professor Jerry Sarnecki told DN the incident amounted to "seriously excessive force".

"She shouldn't be a police officer unless there is some very extenuating circumstances," he said, saying the video left him "very, very upset".

"She has a dog, she has a baton, and he's not being violent. You never know, something else may have happened, but I have a hard time imagining what could justify this."

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.