Prosecutor: American man should spend 7 years in jail for stabbing cops during Covid curfew
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) recommended that a Groningen court convict a 33-year-old American man of stabbing two police officers with a knife during a curfew check in Groningen on 10 March 2021. Prosecutors called for a prison sentence of seven years, and an additional period of mandatory psychiatric treatment in a TBS facility. Eric Jeffrey T. admitted the act in court on Thursday. Prosecutors also recommended that his partner, Justin de G., also be convicted as an accomplice.
T., who has resided illegally in the Netherlands since September 2020, stabbed a policeman in his face and neck just after 10 p.m. The curfew in place as part of the coronavirus restrictions started at 9 p.m. that night and was to last until 4:30 a.m. The officer was in mortal danger for some time. An act of attempted manslaughter, according to the prosecutor. Another officer was stabbed in the leg. The strap of her work belt prevented her from being knifed in the stomach. In this case, the OM accused the suspect of an attempt to inflict serious physical injury.
The police officer was ready for his retirement after 47 years of service. The other officer worked for the police for thirteen years, but March 10 was her first shift on the street. T. said he regrets injuring the officers, but not about defending his wife.
T. was cycling with his 22-year-old partner, who is from Winschoten, on 10 March. They had met each other via the internet, and had been in a relationship since 2018, according to T. He told the court that De G. is his wife whom he calls “Emma.” The officers wanted to check their identification. The OM believes they wanted to commit a burglary that evening.
T. said he had stabbed the officers out of fear that his partner, who had no proof of identity, would be arrested. De G. would then have to go to a mental health institution again and would be left there to die, according to T. He called his actions “honorable.” The two fled to France after the stabbing, where they were arrested.
The OM also demanded a sentence of 117 days against De G. According to T., De G. was a bystander, but prosecutors suspect De G. of open violence. According to the public prosecutor, the suspect did not use violence, but also did not intervene, and was working together with T. In their own defense, De G. stated that a state of shock set in, making it impossible to intervene.
According to psychological experts, T. has serious psychopathology and is less accountable. According to the Public Prosecution Service, he can undergo a sentence imposed by the Netherlands in the United States, but it is still unclear whether the US can also implement a TBS measure. That question is with the American authorities.
Experts who evaluated De G. said the suspect is less accountable for their actions, or lack of intervention, because of a depressive disorder. De G. is also grappling with gender identity issues. The suspect also suffers from selective mutism, an anxiety disorder making it difficult for someone to speak in social situations. As such, De G. did not speak verbally in their own defense on Friday, and instead answered questions by typing on a laptop.
The prison sentence recommended by prosecutors is equal to the time that De G. already spent in pre-trial detention. According to the suspect’s lawyer, De G. is a vulnerable person living under supervision. Defense attorneys instead recommended full acquittal.
"I hardly had time to realize what exactly happened, I thought he was talking his way out of it," De G. said about the stabbing. T. had a knife with him for his own protection, De G. typed. The two had roamed Europe together, and T. feared being arrested during the curfew check. "Then we'll be torn apart and have to go back to our old lives."
T. stated earlier that De G. did nothing wrong. There was also a knife in De G.’s pocket, De G. said, but it was never removed to be used as a weapon. De G. stated that each of the two had knives with them because they had no permanent residence and were regularly around homeless people and drug dealers.
The court will issue a ruling in the case on August 12.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times