Amsterdam police chief says he should have been 'more reserved' with media after German influencer killing
Amsterdam police chief Frank Paauw says he should have been more careful with his comments to the media after the police killing of a 23-year-old German fitness influencer in 2020. He made the admission as the complaints committee ruled in favor of the German man's parents, who filed a complaint after his death, according to AT5.
“Shortly after the violent incident, I should have been more reserved in my statement in the media," Paauw said, according to a statement from the police.
Amsterdam police shot and killed the 23-year-old Samuel Seewald, who went by the pseudonym Sammy Baker, while trying to arrest him on Aug. 13, 2020. Seewald was found walking in the courtyard of Honselersdijkstraat with a knife. The police said at the time that he threatened to injure himself and the officers with it.
Seewald held the knife to his throat, made cutting motions at his wrists and then walked toward the police with it, according to AT5. Officers said they were "forced to shoot" when he made swinging, stabbing movements with the knife in their direction, according to the Public Prosecution Service (OM). They shot at Seewald and he died on the spot, although attempts were made to resuscitate him.
At the time, Paauw told Het Parool that Seewald had stabbed one of the officers in the vest with the knife. However, a forensic investigation found that there was no damage to the officer's safety vest. Seewald's parents were outraged by Paauw's comments, AT5 reports. "It would feel good if he apologized and corrected his statements, because they were wrong," said Justine Seewald, the mother of the deceased man.
In retrospect, Paauw now admits, he should have said Seewald stabbed "in the direction of" officers. He says he based his statement on the information that the officers who were present gave him at the time, and rejects the idea that he tried to influence police officers with the statement or put Seewald in a bad light.
“From the moment I heard about what happened to Sammy, I sympathized and wanted to talk to the parents," Paauw said. "They have lost their son, a great and heavy loss and I can well imagine that the parents were not ready for a conversation with me. It was only during the conversation during the complaints procedure that I was able to express my sincere condolences."
He went on to say it was important to learn from Seewald's case and added he personally advocates for the use of less lethal means of violence, such as electroshock weapons.