The Amstelveen amateur football club RKAVIC-4 is crowned champion on 14 May this year. Most of the team descends on the heart of Amsterdam to celebrate in style. A police officer with a police dog spots the boisterous group and decides to step in. Two men are arrested, after which a drama rapidly unfolds. Feeling threatened, the officer shoots four times with his service weapon. Two minutes after the arrest of one of the men, 31-year-old captain Michael Koomen is dead. Two other men are badly injured. Nine footballers are arrested for attempted manslaughter.
The footage recorded by CCTV cameras in the street don’t corroborate the officer’s statements. What exactly does the footage show, and what happened in those few fatal minutes? ZEMBLA reconstructs the events of that night based on interviews with the footballers who were there, and photos of the CCTV footage of the shooting.
Statement not corroborated by CCTV footage
On 28 October this year, two footballers appear in court, charged with violent disorderly conduct. Footage from the CCTV cameras is shown in court. The statement of canine handler Fred B. is not corroborated by the security footage. He states: “I saw a large disorderly mob that kicked me in the arms, legs and face.” And: “I felt the mob had gone wild and was out for blood.”
No angry mob
The images don’t show an angry mob. However, they do reveal that the police officer lashed out at the boy asking why his two teammates are being arrested. The young man then hits and kicks the officer repeatedly. He is unarmed. The images also show that two of his friends try to stop their agitated teammate from assaulting the policeman. Captain Michael Koomen, who is later shot dead by the officer, makes repeated attempts to hold the boy down. One of the young men who is arrested restrains the officer when he tries to use his truncheon.
On 11 November, two of the team’s players are convicted for violent disorderly conduct against the police officer but, in view of the events that night, they do not receive a sentence – the judge feels that their time spent in pre-trial detention was sufficient.
The canine handler Fred B. was given a suspended sentence in the late 1990s for ill-treating a handcuffed man he had arrested. This fact was unearthed when an anonymous letter - which ZEMBLA was able to access - was sent to one of the lawyers. The conviction was confirmed by the court. The letter also provides a summary of multiple incidents in which Fred B, acting in his official capacity, exhibited escalating violent behaviour.
Reconstruction by the Ministry of Justice
The issue at stake here is whether the policeman was justified in using his service weapon. If his actions had not escalated, would he have been able to deal with the situation using pepper spray and his police dog? There is nothing to confirm whether or not the policeman will be prosecuted. He was initially interviewed as a witness, but has since become a suspect. The Ministry of Justice intends to reconstruct the night’s events before deciding whether or not to prosecute the officer. The reconstruction is planned for January.