Mohamed Lamine Dramé (inset) allegedly attacked the officers with “a possibly suicidal intention” before he was shot with a machine pistol, according to police accounts. However subsequent official investigations found that the teenager was not aggressive during the fateful incident/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia/Private

Germany: Police officers charged over death of African teenager

A 16-year-old Senegalese boy was shot last year in the course of a police operation in Dortmund. Five police officers have now been charged to court over the tragic incident, which sparked protests in the African community.

One officer is accused of manslaughter, three of dangerous bodily harm and another of incitement to dangerous bodily harm, as Dortmund senior public prosecutor Carsten Dombert confirmed in a press interview on Wednesday.

According to official investigations, Mohamed Lamin Dramé was shot by an officer with a submachine gun during a police operation at a youth welfare centre on 8 August last year and he died as a result of the wound he sustained.

On the fateful day, the police had been invited by a social worker at the hostel in the Nordstadt district of Dortmund where the teenage asylum-seeker from Senegal lived because he exhibited suicidal behaviour, according to the public prosecutor. He was said to have held a knife in front of his stomach and expressed his intention to end his life.

The police officers claimed the unaccompanied minor had run towards them with a knife, so they used pepper spray and two tasers before shooting him with an automatic pistol. The body cams of the police officers were not switched on during the operation.

In the course of investigations, some findings turned out to be different from what the police had initially stated. The 16-year-old was allegedly not warned by the police officers before the fatal shooting. The use of irritant gas and stun guns was also not declared by the police officers. Mouhamed Dramé had not been aggressive at any time, investigators also found out.

The North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of the Interior Herbert Reul has explained that it was important for the relatives, but also for the accused police officers, to clarify the situation as quickly as possible. “And I also want to know what exactly happened in Dortmund. I have confidence in our justice system,” said the minister, who is a member of the CDU.

The Dortmund police has emphasised that it was in the interest of the authorities that the death of the refugee and the question of the legality of the measures taken during the police operation last summer be “fully clarified”. At the same time, police chief Gregor Lange referred to the presumption of innocence until the accusations have been clarified in court. He said that it was clear to him that the operation had “damaged trust, especially among migrant people”. The police must restore this, he added.

Sola Jolaoso

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