2 police officers acquitted in fatal shooting of robbery suspect during getaway

MAR. 01, 2012

Japan Today

The 74-year-old mother of a man fatally shot by two police officers on Wednesday expressed her anger and dissatisfaction at the trial that resulted in the acquittal of the officers.

In a landmark case, the two police officers were committed to trial by the Nara District Court after they shot and killed Sojitsu Ko, 28, who was about to flee with an accomplice from a robbery in Yamatokoriyama in September 2003. The officers were tried under the lay judge system to determine whether they intended to kill Ko and if the use of lethal force was necessary, NTV reported.

The two officers, together with another policeman, fired eight rounds at the suspect’s getaway car after it got wedged between two police cars. Ko died in the front passenger seat and the driver was injured.

Ko’s mother initially filed a criminal complaint, following which the Nara District Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to indict the officers. In 2010, she asked the district court to examine the case, and the two officers were indicted, according to NTV.

In its ruling handed down on Tuesday, the Nara District Court said there was no evidence that the police officers intended to kill the suspect who had been ordered to get out of the car for questioning over a robbery. When the car pulled away, the officers had no choice but to fire at it, the presiding judge was quoted as saying.

At the press conference, Ko’s mother said, “This trial was a mess. They didn’t hear any opinions from this side of the debate. It made me extremely angry.” She has vowed to appeal the verdict.

発砲の警官、二審も無罪 正当防衛認める 中国人死亡