Swedish police charged over fatal shooting of man with Down’s syndrome

Three Swedish police officers have been charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a man who had Down’s syndrome and autism.

Police opened fire on Eric Torell, 20, in response to what they described as a “threatening situation” in August 2018.

His mother said at the time he had been carrying a toy that was “like a submachine gun”.

Two officers have been charged with official misconduct and one with causing the man’s death.

Mr Torell had been reported missing from his home in the capital Stockholm hours before police received reports of a man in possession of a gun.

His mother, Katarina Söderberg, said the toy was a gift.

Three officers found Mr Torell in a residential courtyard in the Vasastan district and ordered him to discard what they believed was a dangerous weapon.

Flowers, candles and cards placed at the scene of the shooting for Eric Torell's memorial
Flowers were left at the scene of the shooting amid a public outcry

“I have decided that the police who have been charged for the shooting did not follow the procedures they should have done and had they done so, they would have realised that Eric – the victim – was not a threat,” prosecutor Martin Tiden told reporters.

He said the officers were justified in opening fire but said they should have stopped when he turned away from them.

Mr Torell was taken to hospital and later confirmed dead.

“This can’t be allowed to happen again,” said Mr Tiden.

Ms Söderberg said she was relieved there would now be justice. “We will know everything that happened. No stone will be left unturned,” she said.

She described her son as “the world’s kindest man” and said: “It’s impossible to understand. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Sweden’s National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg has asked for a government review of the rules surrounding the use of firearms following an increase in the number of people shot and killed.

In a country of 10 million, on average one person per year has been shot to death in Sweden over the past 20 years. In 2018 six people were shot and killed.

This compares to four in the UK in 2017-18, where the population is six times that of Sweden. In the US, 992 people were shot and killed by police in 2018.