A cluster of police killings
Four deaths inside a week have led to a debate over racism and calls for an overhaul of the system that investigates the officers.
German police fatally wounded four people in the space of a week earlier this month, an unusually high number in a country where cops have a good record when it comes to people dying in their custody.
Three of the deaths happened in the urban sprawl of North Rhine-Westphalia that stretches from Cologne to Dortmund. The fourth took place in Frankfurt.
On August 2nd, a homeless Somali man threatened two prostitutes at knife point in Frankfurt’s inner city. When police arrived, he stabbed and wounded one of their dogs. The officers then opened fire. Contrary to initial police reports, the man did not die in hospital, but was killed at the scene by a bullet to the head.
A day later, in Cologne, police entered an apartment to forcefully evict a tenant. According to the police report, the man attacked the officers with a knife, they responded “unsuccessfully” with pepper spray and then shot him dead.
On August 7th, in Recklinghausen, police “secured” a 39-year-old man, who had been smashing up an apartment. The man lost consciousness and later died in hospital. According to the police report, he “put up massive resistance.” The use of pepper spray failed to pacify him, leading officers to pin him down (fixieren in German Fachjargon).
A day later, a few kilometres down the road in Dortmund, police were alerted after a 16-year-old was spotted carrying a knife in a psychiatric ward. Eleven officers turned up. Four of them approached the teen to try to calm him down. According to the police report, he lurched at the officers with his knife, leading a fifth officer who was standing guard to open fire with an automatic weapon. The adolescent died after being hit by five bullets, one to the jaw.