Police Shoot Dead Man, 20, With Down’s Syndrome, Who Was Carrying Toy Gun

Eric TorrellExpressen/Twitter

A 20-year-old man has died after he was shot by police in Sweden while carrying a plastic toy gun.

Eric Torell, who had Down’s syndrome, autism, and was unable to communicate verbally, was reported missing after he ran away from home.

According to Eric’s mother, running away from home is something he had been known to do before. When he left, Eric had a plastic toy gun with him which ‘looked a little like a submachine gun’ and was given to him as a gift, Expressen reports.

According to reports, police were alerted to the Vasastan district of Stockholm at around 4am on Thursday, August 2, after concerns were raised in the area about a man with gun.

Officers ordered Eric to discard what they believed to be a weapon, and were forced to take action after he failed to comply and was acting ‘threateningly’.

An eyewitness told reporters:

I heard gun shots and woke up. When I looked out I saw policemen. They shouted that someone should lay down his weapon and lie on the ground. Then more police arrived and also an ambulance.

Police officers are then believed to have fired at the 20-year-old. He was taken to hospital but sadly could not be saved.

Eric’s mother, Katarina Söderberg, said:

It’s impossible to understand. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s the kindest person in the world.

She added:

Even if he made a mistake, even if he went outside with a pistol thing, a toy gun, do they have to shoot him dead because of that?

It was light outside, you can see a mile away that he’s got Down syndrome. It can’t be missed.

A ‘threatening man’? He’s like a 3-year-old.

Katarina added that, due to her son’s disability, he struggled with speech and could only really used the word ‘mum’.

According to reports, the prosector’s office has opened an investigation of possible police misconduct.

Eric’s father, Rickard, said:

I woke up because Eric was gone. I went out and looked for him. I saw police cars on the street.

Three police officers shot him in his stomach.

Sweden’s Interior and Justice minister, Morgan Johansson has since responded to the incident.

He wrote:

It’s a deeply tragic event. An investigation is now underway to clarify what happened, and we must now wait for it.

Regional policeman in Stockholm, Ulf Johansson, said in a press release:

It is very tragic for everyone involved and I have a great understanding and respect for what has occurred, which causes very upset feelings.

With all due respect for the family to the deceased, my thoughts obviously also go to the policymakers who have been involved in this event.

The Special Prosecutor’s Chamber has initiated a preliminary investigation into police misconduct surrounding the incident.

The investigation is led by chief prosecutor Martin Tidén. Though he declined to make an official comment, Tidén did say it will take several weeks.

He added:

The important thing about this investigation is that it is conducted objectively.

Our thoughts are with Eric’s family at this difficult time.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.