Police shot a 20-year-old man with Down's Syndrome, Eric Torell, to death because he was carrying a fake, plastic gun.
Torell left his home in the middle of the night, and his father Rickard Torell noticed that a toy gun was missing, along with his son:
"I went out and looked for him. I saw police cars on the street.
Officers in Stockholm, Sweden believed it to be an actual firearm, and opened fire. Torell was showing the replica plastic gun to some of his neighbors, who also mistook it as a gun, and called the police. Three officers shot him in the stomach, claiming the situation felt "threatening."
He was rushed to the hospital, but died from his injuries.
Torell was diagnosed with autism, and held the mental age of a three-year-old. He only used the word 'mom' in regular conversation, and was unable to speak much more than that – which made it impossible to communicate with his neighbors, or police.
His mom, Katarina Söderberg, described the young man as "the world's most loving person" and is in a state of shock and disbelief:
"We are completely destroyed, we are in shock. I cannot believe it's true."
Ulf Johansson, Stockholm regional police chief, confirmed that the special prosecutor's office is in the midst of an investigation of potential police misconduct:
"On Thursday, a young man was killed in a police intervention in central Stockholm. It's a terrible event and my thoughts go to his family and relatives."
He said that the incident was a devastating one for everyone, including the police officers, before going on to defend the officers who shot Torell:
“It is very tragic for all involved...But I still want to mention, from experience, that very difficult decisions in unclear and hard-pressed situations sometimes need to be taken in a few seconds and happen on initial evaluations."
Johansson sympathized with the officers as well as the family – which has received negative reactions:
Some people are blaming his parents for giving him a plastic replica of a submachine gun:
Why did the parents give him a toy submachine gun as a gift?— Blurred Visionary (@MichaelRizer) August 3, 2018
He had a plastic toy gun with him, which "looked a little like a submachine gun" and was given to him as a gift— JNLegal (@jnlegal) August 3, 2018
As tragic as this story is, who was the idiot that gave him a toy gun that resembles a sub-machine gun? That would put ANY police person on edge
Locals disagree, insisting that police don't resort to outright murdering people who are holding firearms without attempting to talk them down:
Not in Scandinavia. Normally our police talk people down even with real guns. This is unacceptable and unprofessional.— Linn Palm (@PalmLinn) August 3, 2018
Some are defending the police, claiming that the officers did the right thing:
Everyone is equal.— Mortaldeadking 🦊 (@mortaldeadking) August 3, 2018
The police would of took the same approach to anyone else.
You can’t risk other peoples lives for thinking “Maybe he has a disability”
This was the sixth person to be shot dead by Swedish police this year. This is a new high, never before have so many people been shot dead by Swedish police in one year.— Per Pettersson (@Perzec) August 3, 2018
So no, people in general don’t expect to be shot dead by police in Sweden.
Others believe that the situation was mishandled, and there was no reason for him to be shot dead:
Söderberg understood that him having the toy gun was a reason to alert police. But, she doesn't believe that he should have been shot dead as a result:
"Of course, it was very unfortunate that he had [the gun] for some reason. But why do you have to kill him, why not shoot him in the foot?"
Like many others online, she questions their training, and inability to distinguish a real gun from a fake, plastic one:
"And from three policemen? You cannot be shot by a piece of plastic."
Were really gonna blame the gift giver and a genetically different human before saying that the trained police officer should’ve done his job better? These people have so much power and not a single person is checking them.— Darnell Millien (@_yourhighness95) August 3, 2018
This is what happens when police is permanently armed and stop thinking. No way was he threatening. He was scared. He couldn’t even speak. His only word was «mom». 🤬🤬🤬— Linn Palm (@PalmLinn) August 3, 2018
Regardless, Twitter is grieving alongside his loved ones, heartbroken that something like this happened:
Rest in peace, Eric.