An initial post-mortem examination has been carried out on the police fatality in Mannheim on 23 December. A trial will soon begin in the city in another case of fatal police violence.
Ertekin Özkan, who died in the German city of Mannheim on 23 December, was killed by police bullets. This unsurprising autopsy result was announced by the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) in Baden-Württemberg and the Mannheim public prosecutor’s office in a press release. It was the eighth police fatal shooting in 2023 in Germany.
The 49-year-old had threatened the police officers that he had called himself with a knife in the street. One or more of the officers then shot him four times with their service weapons, and the man, who was seriously injured as a result, subsequently died in hospital.
The fatal shots are documented on videos on the internet. This shows that Özkan was in an exceptional psychological situation. He moved towards the police forces with his naked upper body.
For the first time, the police have also provided information about the emergency call made by the later victim. Özkan claimed that there was a dead person in his flat. However, the police investigation proved this to be false.
The deceased was born in Mannheim, had Turkish citizenship and lived with his three children with his mother. In the past, he had “already made several police appearances”, according to the authorities’ statement. This is an indirect confirmation of the criticisms levelled by Özkan’s family that the police were already aware of his mental illness.
While the police escalated the operation, relatives wanted to influence Özkan in the exceptional situation. However, Turkish media and the left-wing politician Gökay Akbulut from Mannheim report that the police prevented this. On Platform X, the member of the Bundestag quotes a daughter of the deceased: “But no matter how many times we tried, the police didn’t listen to us. They first pushed him away, then killed him with four bullets. In front of our family and friends. Was this really an emergency?”
The autopsy results from Heidelberg Forensic Medicine are preliminary; a final result and the results of a toxicological examination are still pending. This should clarify whether Özkan was under the influence of intoxicating substances. According to a daughter, the man was a drug addict until two years ago.
The LKA claims to have heard over 20 witnesses in the case. In order to reconstruct the events, the officers are analysing 130 videos that were received via a tip-off portal on the internet, among other sources. According to the statement, forensic experts also carried out “extensive and comprehensive ballistic investigations” into the use of firearms. The aim is to try and “completely shed light” on the shooting.
Last week, the “Initiative 2 May” held rallies at the crime scene in Mannheim-Schönau and in the city centre under the motto “How many more?” with hundreds of participants each. The initiative has named itself after another case of fatal police violence: On 2 May 2022, a man who was also mentally ill died as a result of an operation in Mannheim city centre. The 47-year-old suffocated as a result of being restrained and forced into a position in which he could no longer breathe. A police officer had previously hit him twice in the head with his fist.
The trial against the perpetrators from one and a half years ago will now begin on 12 January: One officer is accused of assault in the line of duty resulting in death in conjunction with attempted grievous bodily harm, the other of involuntary manslaughter by omission. Eight trial days have been scheduled until the beginning of March.
“The tightening of police laws, the ever-increasing powers of the police, the greater control and, of course, the lack of consequences: they all ensure that police officers feel that they are in the right with such behaviour,” writes the “Initiative 2 May” on the occasion of the upcoming trial.
In fact, there are a striking number of cases of fatal or excessive police violence in the city of around 300,000 inhabitants. On 10 May 2022, an officer shot a suicidal man in the thigh, which the public prosecutor’s office deemed to be self-defence and closed the investigation shortly afterwards. According to the autopsy report, the 31-year-old died as a result of blood loss caused by stab wounds he had inflicted on himself.
In September, the police in Mannheim also initiated a criminal investigation into the case of a policewoman who had poured cooking oil from a bottle onto a demonstrator during a Last Generation protest. On “X”, activists reported further harassment and abuse by the same officer in custody.
These proceedings concerning “measures taken in police custody” have since been discontinued, the public prosecutor’s office said in response to an enquiry from “nd”. There were “no sufficient indications” that the treatment of the climate activists was not lawful. There was also no evidence of criminal behaviour on the part of the police officer with regard to the oil attack, as nothing serious had happened: “The investigation did not provide sufficient evidence that the police officer’s behaviour had caused damage or injuries that would constitute damage to property or bodily harm,” said the spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office.
Published in German in „nd“.