Police use of force may have killed disturbed man in Rotterdam
An investigation into the death of a disturbed individual who passed away while being taken into custody in June found that police officers may be responsible for the fatal outcome. An electric shock weapon was used during the arrest, police confirmed at the time. Ten police officers have been placed on desk duty during the investigation.
The incident happened on June 9 on the on 's-Gravenweg in Rotterdam. Police officers were dispatched at about 11:15 p.m. for reports of a person in a disturbed state who had jumped on top of a vehicle.
Police arriving at the scene chased the 32-year-old and used an electric shock weapon to bring the man under control. Officers claim the man resisted afterwards, and they used force to detain him.
"Shortly after, the arrested man became unwell," the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said a day later. Police attempted to revive the man, who was transported to an area hospital, where he later died.
“The preliminary investigation shows that the police actions played a role in the death of the victim,” the OM said in an update on Thursday. “The Public Prosecution Service came to this provisional conclusion on the basis of statements by witnesses, camera images, and findings of a forensic doctor.”
No charges have been filed as yet. A day after the incident, the OM said an autopsy and full toxicology report would be carried out to create a complete picture of the cause and manner of death. The initial investigation was being handled by the Rijksrecherche, which examines all uses of police force under the supervision of the OM.
Ten officers were placed in positions that will keep them off the street, said Police Chief Fred Westerbeke. No suspensions were announced. “Much is still unclear about what exactly happened,” he said.
Authorities are now asking the public for help. The Rijksrecherche wants to get in touch with any of the “many bystanders” who witnessed the incident, especially anyone with camera footage from the area. As the initial investigation progresses, the OM said it was unlikely any new information would be released for the time being, even if the public demands to know more because of the death of a person during police intervention.
Police officers used force in nearly 33,600 incidents in 2022, nearly 13,000 more times than the previous year. A rise in cases involving disturbed individuals was one possible cause, police said.
Electric shock weapons, like the Taser, have also been used more frequently. They were deployed more than 4,400 times last year.
Westerbeke said he empathized with the family members who lost their “son and brother.” He added, “It is essential that an independent and careful investigation is carried out and that this is done by the Rijksrecherche under the direction of the Public Prosecution Service.”