A post mortem examination confirmed that Johan Liljeqvist’s death resulted from suffocation after he was pinned to the ground with such force and for so long that he eventually stopped breathing. He was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries, reports Sveriges Radio’s news programme Ekot following a review of a preliminary investigation that was abandoned by prosecutors.
The 24-year-old was arrested in Gothenburg in April last year for kicking a car. A witness told Sveriges Radio that Liljeqvist was held down by an estimated four police officers who pressed their knees into the victim’s back to prevent him from moving.
Prosecutor Bo Lindgren conceded that important details had been set aside in the investigation and that not all police officers present at the scene were questioned in connection with the death, as he had previously claimed.
“I can admit that I might have gone awry there,” he told Sveriges Radio.
Swedish police altered their procedures following the death in police arrest of 41-year-old Osmo Vallo in Karlstad in 1995. Since then it has been well known in police circles that there is a serious risk of death by suffocation if a handcuffed suspect is held face down with pressure on the upper body.
“All officers who have completed their police training in the last ten or eleven years are fully aware of this problem,” Björn Jacobson at the Swedish National Police Academy told Sveriges Radio, adding that older officers had also been brought up to the date with the dangers inherent in the technique.