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:
Locals disagree, insisting that police don't resort to outright murdering people who are holding firearms without attempting to talk them down:
Some are defending the police, claiming that the officers did the right thing:
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."
Regardless, Twitter is grieving alongside his loved ones, heartbroken that something like this happened:
Rest in peace, Eric.
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