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Security guard accused of using excessive force against a child

Published måndag 9 februari 2015 kl 17.51
Malmö centralstation
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A snapshot from the video published and edited by Sydsvenskan.
The Malmö central station. File photo: Karin Olsson-Bendix /Swedish Radio
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The Malmö central station. File photo: Karin Olsson-Bendix /Swedish Radio

A security guard has been suspended after being filmed straddling a young boy, covering his mouth and slamming his head against the floor, but police say they will not investigate the matter.

Passersby filmed the incident at Malmö’s central station on Friday night after two boys, aged nine and 13, were apparently caught riding a train without paying.

A witness told newspaper Sydsvenskan that the boys did not seem to speak Swedish. One of the guards grabbed the youngest boy after he reportedly tried to get away. The guard apparently wrestled the boy to the ground and sat on top of him to keep him there until the police showed up.

On Monday night, Skåne police spokesman Lars Förstell told newspaper Metro that there are not sufficient grounds for reporting the security guard. 

"We've watched the clip and deemed that there is no reason to take this any further. The violence does not exceed...that is, things often look more remarkable on images than in reality. It's often the case that you have to overpower a person in order to ensure they do not cause more harm to themselves," Förstell said, adding: "It can look horrible but you're trained to carry these apprehensions out on violent individuals."

The witness who spoke to Sydsvenskan captured part of the incident on video using his mobile phone. The clip was edited and posted online by the newspaper and has caused outrage on social media.

The clip shows the guard sitting on top of the boy as several onlookers gather around them. The guard covers the boy’s mouth and nose with his glove-clad hand. As the boy resists, the guard pushes him to the ground and witnesses said they could see and hear the boy’s head slam into the stone floor. Gasping for air and crying, the boy at one point recites a Muslim prayer.

“The guard was strangling him. You could tell that the boy couldn’t breathe. He was crying hysterically,” the witness told Sydsvenskan.

When the older boy tried to get the guard to stop, the guard’s colleague pushed him down on to a bench and prevented him from moving, according to the witness, who also claimed that his video only captures part of what he termed “the assault”.

“In the end, the guard elbowed the boy in the face,” the witness said.

Eventually, three police officers arrived at the scene and the nine-year-old was handcuffed. He then spat the guard in the face and the guard reacted instinctively by hitting him in the neck, according to the witness.

Leif Svensson, head of security at Jernhusen, the company that owns the Malmö central station, said that the police had told the security guards to keep the boys at the location since they were wanted and had tried to escape. “I can’t say exactly what happened. Our absolute demand is that you do not use more violence than the law permits,” Svensson said.

Anders Lönnebo, CEO of Svensk Bevakningstjänst AB, the company that employs the two security guards, has seen another mobile-phone clip of the incident which was posted on Facebook.

“It doesn’t look good, but I’ve heard that the boys had been told to leave a train and the guards were then told by the police to hold them at the station, which is what we do in these cases. In the film clip I’ve seen the police are already at the site. Police reports have been filed… Our security guards have been kicked and bitten.”

Lönnebo added that he does not know what happened before or after the film sequence that he has seen. “According to our staff in Malmö the film is edited together in a way that means the incidents are not shown in chronological order.”

Lönnebo said he condemns all unnecessary violence and that the incident will be investigated by his company and by the police. However, later Metro reported that the police has opted not to investigate the matter.

According to the police, the two young boys had absconded from a care home and they were handed over to social services over the weekend.

One of the security guards has reported the boy for violent behaviour, but the investigation was dropped due to the boy’s young age, Sydsvenskan reported.

The video is available here.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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