German police officers who shot and neutralized a knife-wielding attacker are under investigation for possible criminal offenses after two bystanders were also hit with bullets and hospitalized during the chaos.
Authorities were dispatched to a supermarket in the town of Gummersbach, North Rhine-Westphalia, on Tuesday afternoon after reports of shoplifting.
A 30-year-old German citizen of Moroccan descent stole several cans of beer from a store in the town center and assaulted a female employee when confronted before fleeing, reported the Focus news outlet, citing the public prosecutor’s office in Cologne.
The suspect was chased down by four police officers and pulled out a knife as a stand-off ensued. According to the police, the man injured one of the officers with a slash to the face before several armed police discharged their firearms, inflicting multiple gunshot wounds to the suspect as horrified bystanders looked on.
Footage from eyewitnesses in a nearby café circulated on social media on Tuesday detailing the moment the suspect was neutralized by the police.
In Gummersbach wurde wohl ein Messermann erschossen.— Ali Utlu (@AliCologne) November 14, 2023
Weiß man mehr? pic.twitter.com/sizToFHp1C
“According to a preliminary assessment of the facts, the accused is said to have threatened the four police officers with a knife and inflicted a cut on the face of one of them,” said senior public prosecutor Ulrich Bremer.
Two pedestrians were caught in the crossfire and sustained gunshot wounds.
“A 43-year-old passer-by was injured by a gunshot in the buttock area. He is still being treated as an inpatient. In addition, a 74-year-old from Gummersbach suffered a grazing shot to the upper body. He was treated on an outpatient basis,” Bremer added.
The knifeman is understood to be in serious condition in a hospital room guarded by police. Police revealed he was known to the authorities for a multitude of previous offenses including robbery, drug-related crime, grievous bodily harm, and resisting arrest.
However, attention has turned to the actions of the police officers involved in the incident and the extent to which their use of force was proportionate.
“For reasons of neutrality, the police in Cologne are investigating the question of whether the police officers involved have committed a criminal offense,” the public prosecutor revealed.
The test that must be met is “whether the legal requirements for the assumption of self-defense were present,” he added.
An independent investigation into their actions will now take place including the compiling of witness statements and video recordings from eyewitnesses.