Man with Down syndrome shot dead by Stockholm police for carrying toy gun

Eric Torell had the mental age of a three-year-old.
Eric Torell had the mental age of a three-year-old. Photo credit: Supplied

A young man with Down syndrome was killed by police when they thought his plastic gun was real.

Eric Torell, 20, was shot dead in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday morning (local time). His father says he left home in the early hours by himself, taking with him a toy gun.

Mr Torell reportedly showed the gun to some of his neighbours, who called police in the belief the weapon was real. Local media reports that three officers shot him in the stomach soon after they arrived on the scene.

He was taken to hospital but later died from his injuries.

The Swedish Police Authority has defended the officers' actions, saying they had deemed the situation threatening enough to warrant opening fire on the man.

Mr Torell was autistic as well as having Down syndrome, and had the mental age of a three-year-old, according to his mother Katarina Söderberg.

She told Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet that her son knew only one word: 'Mum'.

"We are completely destroyed, we are in shock," she said. "I cannot believe it's true."

She said while it's unfortunate Mr Torell was holding what may have looked like a real weapon, the actions of the officers were unacceptable.

"Why do you have to kill him - why not shoot him in the foot? And from three policemen? You cannot be shot by a piece of plastic."

The office of the city's special prosecutor has launched an investigation into Mr Torell's death.