Cop won't be charged with killing Apple Store hostage taker
Dutch authorities will not prosecute the police officer whose actions led to the death of a 27-year-old man who held a customer hostage at the Apple Store in Amsterdam. The police officer is an employee of the DSI tactical service. He struck the armed suspect with his service vehicle when the incident at the store chaotically led to a confrontation on the street.
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) said that the police officer's actions were justified, and that he was not suspected of any criminal charges. The decision was made after the conclusion of the independent investigation into the handling of the situation, which included testimony from the 44-year-old hostage who was held at gunpoint at the Apple Store on February 22. Investigators spoke with other witnesses as well, though it was not clear if they included other people who hid in the building while the hostage situation unfolded.
"The hostage situation had been going on for hours on February 22, when at one point the hostage managed to run away from the hostage-taker," the OM said. "The hostage-taker, equipped with a firearm and wearing a bomb vest, gave chase." The police officer was in a service vehicle when the two suddenly burst from the doorway. He quickly began driving and slammed his vehicle into the suspect, video from the scene showed.
The OM said in a statement that this was "a very adequate and effective intervention against the hostage-taker." It was deemed to be appropriate, considering the suspect's threat to the public. "By his actions, he immediately put an end to a very life-threatening situation for the hostages and the police officers who were stationed behind his service vehicle," said the chief public prosecutor for the east of the Netherlands, whose office reviewed the case. “Police officers are expected to act in situations such as the present and actively avert the danger.” The OM also determined that use of a service weapon was not a practical option because of the explosives carried by the suspect.
The suspect died the following day as a result of his injuries. His family was notified of the OM's decision not to prosecute the police officer.
Back in February, police labor union ACP also praised the officer for his work. "It shows the decisive and brave action of the police officer who eliminated the running suspect," said ACP representative Maarten Brink in an interview with AD. "They step forward, even at the risk of their own lives, to protect the lives of others."
The hostage was 44 years old at the time, and hails from Bulgaria. He managed to end the hours-long hostage situation by making his escape when going to get water for the perpetrator. In April, Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam honored the Bulgarian man and four others who endured the hostage situation with a Hero’s Pin. The man asked to remain anonymous. "His heroic act was incredibly brave, even if he doesn't see himself as a hero," Halsema said.