COPENHAGEN, Denmark—The Swedish prosecutor in charge of investigating whether police committed an error when fatally shooting a 20-year-old disabled man who waved a toy gun, said Friday that it has emerged that several officers opened fire.
“The man held a weapon-like object and officers opened fire after judging the situation as threatening,” Martin Tiden said, adding that the probe was “routine” because policemen had used their firearms. No police officers are suspected of foul play, he said.
Eric Torell was shot early Thursday morning in Stockholm and died of his wounds shortly after.
“It has subsequently been established that the object was some kind of toy,” Tiden said, and “more than one police officer made use of his firearm.”
Torell’s mother Katarina Soderberg told the Expressen newspaper that her son was “the world’s sweetest and most lovable person.”
Soderberg said that Torell, who had Down Syndrome and autism and struggled to communicate, had been reported missing after leaving home hours earlier.
“He could barely speak, he could just say mommy, mommy,” Soderberg told the Expressen tabloid on Thursday. She said the plastic toy resembled a submachine gun, and that it had been given to him as a present for his fifth birthday.
Swedish police acknowledged the shooting and said an investigation into possible police misconduct has been initiated, but gave no further details. Stockholm police chief Ulf Johansson on Friday called the shooting “a terrible event.”
“It is very tragic for all those involved, and I have a great understanding and respect that what has happened has awoken many distraught feelings,” Johansson said in a separate statement.
Tiden could not say how long the investigation would last.
Sweden’s public radio said Torell was the sixth person this year to have been shot dead by police.
By JAN M. OLSEN