A 16-year-old is killed by five bullets from a police submachine gun. The use of the Dortmund police caused a stir. The origin of the dead also plays a role in the criticism.
Dortmund – Even days after the deadly shots from a police submachine gun at a 16-year-old, the case is being hotly debated. What is now known about it – and what is not:
On Monday afternoon, the police were called to a youth welfare facility in the north of Dortmund, according to the public prosecutor. A supervisor had dialed 911 because of a youth armed with a knife. Eleven police officers were ultimately on site, one of them shot the 16-year-old with a submachine gun after he is said to have attacked the officers. He fired six shots, five of which hit the youth: in the stomach, in the jaw, in the forearm and twice in the shoulder. He died in the hospital. According to prosecutors, there is no evidence of injured police officers.
Who is the dead man?
An unaccompanied minor refugee from Senegal. He had been assigned to the youth welfare facility shortly before. Before the police operation, he had been in a psychiatric ward. He went there himself because of psychological problems, said the responsible senior public prosecutor Carsten Dombert. The 16-year-old is said not to have spoken German well. It remains to be determined whether this played a role in the operation. The “Ruhr Nachrichten” quoted local residents: He was a slight, shy boy. “He used to tremble when he ordered from me. He was afraid of people,” the owner of a pizzeria is quoted as saying.
What did the kid with the knife want?
What he originally intended to do with it – whether he wanted to hurt himself or others – is still unclear, according to the investigators. There were suicidal intentions in the room, said senior public prosecutor Dombert.
Who is the shooter?
A 29 year old police officer. According to the public prosecutor’s office, he is being investigated on the initial suspicion of bodily harm resulting in death. The Dortmund police did not provide any information on how it was handled internally and whether he was still on duty.
How are the investigations going?
“This is without question a very sensitive procedure,” said senior public prosecutor Dombert. One must proceed carefully before answering questions conclusively. In particular, the central question – how it can be that a threat or an attack with a knife is answered with several shots from a submachine gun – has not yet been answered. The investigators hope to gain insights from the interviews of three supervisors of the facility and the police officers involved. The public prosecutor’s office did not say whether and how the accused police officer spoke. It is also still unclear whether the MP5, which is part of the equipment in every radio patrol car in North Rhine-Westphalia, was set to automatic or single shot when firing.
What is discussed?
The evening after the operation, there was a demonstration from the left spectrum in Dortmund, and the operation was also heavily criticized on social media. It is about the allegation of police violence and in particular the fact that the police shot a black youth. In the investigation, there was no evidence that the skin color of the 16-year-old played a role in the operation, said senior public prosecutor Dombert. “And I also want to assume that from a police perspective, that doesn’t matter.”
What is the legal situation regarding the use of firearms by the police?
Referring to the police law, the NRW Ministry of the Interior stated that firearms may only be used against people to ward off a threat to life and limb and if “other measures of direct coercion have been used unsuccessfully or obviously do not promise success”. The police officers in Dortmund had used tear gas and two electric shock devices – a so-called Taser – before the fatal shots were fired. At short distances, the danger of life-threatening injuries for police officers is very likely in the case of knife attacks. “Therefore, police use of firearms is often the only means of repelling the attack,” it said. The shots are then fired “until a recognizable effect occurs and the attack movement is interrupted”. This could also require multiple hits.
Couldn’t the youth have been stopped in another way?
The martial appearance of eleven police officers with automatic weapons makes a difference because it gives people the impression of an attack, especially if they don’t understand German, said the Bochum criminologist Thomas Feltes. “A psychologist or psychiatrist should always be present on such operations.” Feltes asks, “Why was a submachine gun used there? That is incomprehensible at all. ”This was primarily made for killing sprees, not for operations against young people with mental health problems. Criminologist Rafael Behr also said the use of the submachine gun was unusual. “It is absolutely not usual to carry such a device with you in such cases,” he told WDR. According to the NRW Ministry of the Interior, the MP5 is better suited for longer distances than the pistol, which is usually used at close range. dpa