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Daily: Fragment of police riot gun pellet extracted from protester’s eye

Police lab work has revealed a that a strange fragment lodged in the eye of an Independence Day demonstrator came from a round of a riot gun used by law enforcement for crowd control. According to the daily Helsingin Sanomat, the fragment entered the man’s eye although police say that officers targeted protesters’ legs when they discharged the weapons.

Poliisi eristi soihtukulkueen marssijat ja marssin vastustajat toisistaan Helsingissä itsenäisyyspäivänä.
Poliisi eristi soihtukulkueen marssijat ja marssin vastustajat toisistaan Helsingissä itsenäisyyspäivänä. Image: Aku Häyrynen / Lehtikuva

Helsingin Sanomat reported Thursday on a demonstrator at last December’s Independence Day street protests in Helsinki, who sustained an eye injury. A doctor removed a fragment measuring less than one millimeter from the patient’s eye and sent it to the National Bureau of Investigation's laboratory for further analysis.

The police lab found that the fragment was part of a rubber bullet that came from a compressed air riot gun that police used for crowd control during the Independence Day demonstrations. Police say that the projectile could not have entered the man’s eye directly, because it would have caused a "completely different" kind of outcome if that had been the case.

"One can only guess what the pellet hit before the pieces ended up in the eye," Detective Chief Inspector Toni Uusikivi told Helsingin Sanomat.

Police: Other methods inadequate

Law enforcement intervened as protesters attempted to disrupt a torchlight procession by the nationalist 612 movement on Independence Day. Reports are that some of the protesters hurled rocks and bottles at the officers.

Police said at the time that officers used the non-lethal FN 303 riot gun twice during the demonstrations and fired seven rounds. Officers later detained roughly 130 people, all of whom were subsequently released.

According to police reports, the demonstrators behaved in such a manner that other use of force methods did not suffice to contain the violence. However the man who sustained the eye injury said he had not come into direct contact with the police. He said he was struck in the eye as he stood some dozens of metres away from the police.

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