Swedish police backtrack on ‘gunfight’ claims

Swedish police backtrack on 'gunfight' claims
The scene of the shooting on June 22nd. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT
Police have retracted a claim that a suspected gunman had fired shots at a patrol unit before officers shot him dead in a Stockholm suburb last month.

Police were called to a suburb in south-eastern Stockholm in the evening of June 22nd after receiving reports that an armed man had been spotted in central Bagarmossen.

At the time officers said that the driver had got out of his car and shot at the police unit, who returned fire.

A spokesperson told Swedish media that he did not know how many shots had been fired in the exchange, but noted that there were four bullet holes in the police car's windscreen.

But in a statement published online on Wednesday, police confirmed that the report was incorrect.

“The initial information police gave in connection with a man being shot dead by police in Bagarmossen on June 22nd was not correct. The man had not fired any shots at the police, as we reported in the media and on the police's website,” read the new statement.

“We apologize for the incorrect information and the delay in correcting it,” it added.

A police spokesperson told the Aftonbladet tabloid that they would look at changing their procedures for sharing information about ongoing events.

“Our information should always be factual and correct. At the same time, the public and the media demand that we should be fast. We write on our website that initial information is subject to change. We have to think in the future about tightening our procedures so that the information is correct rather than quick,” Helena Östman of the police in Stockholm told the daily.

The shooting victim, born in 1988, was at the time the tenth person to be fatally shot by Swedish police since January 2013.

Earlier this month officers shot a man in Viksjö, northern Stockholm, who according to witnesses was brandishing a pistol-like object. The man, in his forties, later died in hospital from his injuries.

Other victims of police shootings include a sword-wielding right-wing extremist who killed three people in an attack on a school in Trollhättan in western Sweden last year. 

In May 2013, police shot and killed a 69-year-old man in Husby outside Stockholm. That shooting was widely cited as the spark for a wave of riots and vandalism in the area. The victim's widow described it as an “execution”. Prosecutors later vindicated the police, saying they had acted in self-defence.