Three police officers to be charged over fatal shooting of disabled man

Three police officers to be charged over fatal shooting of disabled man
Eric Torell died after being shot by police last year. Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT
Three police officers will be charged over the fatal shooting of a severely disabled man, Eric Torell.

One of the officers will be charged for involuntary manslaughter while the other two face charges for breach of official duty, the prosecutor confirmed on Friday morning.

“One officer will be prosecuted for causing another person's death, alternatively breach of official duty, and two will be prosecuted for breach of official duty,” prosecutor Martin Tidén told a press conference. Swedish criminal law makes a distinction between causing another person's death (vållande till annans död) and the more serious charge of manslaughter (dråp).

Describing the events that led to 20-year-old Eric Torell's death on August 2nd last year, prosecutor Tidén said the three police officers had been in a residential courtyard early in the morning responding to a call about a suspected dangerous man. Torell then came into the courtyard holding a toy gun, which he pointed at one of the officers. 

He had Down Syndrome and autism, and according to his mother had the same mental level as a typical three-year-old.

In their initial police report, police said they had opened fire following a “threatening situation” while carrying out a check after receiving reports that led them to suspect a known violent criminal was in the area.

Torell was taken to hospital after being shot but later confirmed to have died. The prosecutor's statement on Friday said that his life could not have been saved after the shooting.

He was the seventh person to die in Sweden after being shot by police in 2018. 

During the preliminary investigation into his death, hundreds of hearings, has been carried out and a 3D reconstruction of the scene of the shooting has been used to help prosecutors understand what happened. Police have said that the darkness in the area made it difficult to see that the weapon Torell was holding was a toy.

The shooting of the young disabled man provoked a huge response across Sweden, and his funeral in Stockholm was kept open to anyone who wanted to attend. 

Torell's mother, Katarina Söderberg, said she was satisfied with the decision to prosecute the officers.

“I feel extremely relieved after this decision. I tried to steel myself in case it had been different, but now it feels good. Because now we can finally find out what happened and how it could have gone so wrong,” Söderberg told the TT newswire.

She said that she hadn't received any communication from police since her son's death.

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