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Cop suspected of involuntary manslaughter over roadside killing

A preliminary investigation of a police officer who shot and killed a man on the side of a highway last autumn is complete, police officials said on Tuesday. The officer - who reportedly killed the man because he was about to stab a female passenger in his car with a knife - is suspected of involuntary manslaughter and breach of duty.

Tapahtumapaikka moottoritiellä Orimattilassa, jossa poliisi ampui miehen kolarin jälkeisessä uhkaavassa tilanteessa.
File photo of the stretch of Highway 4 where the roadside killing took place in October 2016. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

The case regarding a police officer who allegedly shot and killed a man on the side of a highway in southern Finland as the man was allegedly assaulting and about to stab a woman with a knife last October - is now in the hands of the prosecutor's office in Salpausselkä.

After a lengthy investigation it was found that the officer could have reacted differently to the situation. The case is now in the hands of the local prosecutor's office, which will make a decision on charges.

The fatal incident took place in early October 2016, on Highway 4 near Orimattila, about a half-hour drive south of the city of Lahti.

According to police the officer shot the man three times, killing him, while the man's 24 year-old female passenger was taken to the hospital. The officer in question has denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutor: Unusual case

Pasi Pälsi, the prosecutor of the case, said that while similar incidents have occasionally taken place in the past, no officers have been convicted of similar charges before.

Pälsi said a thorough investigation is always carried out after an officer discharges his or her firearm, but it is rare for such cases to go to pre-trial or lead to a conviction.

The prosecutor said that officers have the right to use their weapons and can even be obligated to do so on occasion.

A representative from the Helsinki Police department confirmed that the officer responsible for the killing has been on duty during the preliminary investigation, saying that the leadership saw no reason to take action on the officer's employment status while the case was still being investigated.

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