Dutch cop gets suspended community service for shooting at wrong person

Dutch police
A sign hanging in front of a Dutch police post. April 30, 2006Photo: M.M.Minderhoud via Michiel1972Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

A police officer was sentenced to 120 hours of community service, conditionally suspended, for firing four gunshots at a scooter rider in Groningen in April last year. The court in Groningen found her guilty of attempted aggravated assault and not acting according to the instructions of the police, NU.nl reports.

The 41-year-old officer was convinced that the scooter driver posed an acute danger. He met the description of a man who had threatened his parents with firearms, she said. The suspect was described as riding around on a red scooter, and maybe in possession of firearms.

When the officer and her colleague saw a red scooter, they gave chase. At an intersection the scooter driver ignored the officer's verbal order to stop and sped up. She then drew her service pistol, aimed at the scooter's tires, and fired four shots. The driver wasn't hit.

The scooter driver turned out to have nothing to do with the case of the threatened parents. He did not have a valid driver's license, which is why he did not pull over when ordered to do so.

The officer's lawyer argued that she acted well given the available information. The suspect's mother warned the police that her son could turn violent if he was angry, the lawyer said.

The court's ruling corresponds with the punishment the Public Prosecutor demanded against the officer. The court agreed with the Public Prosecutor that the officer made an error in judgment. "She shot without any form of consultation with her colleague and allowed herself to be carried away by the situation."