Inquiry into soldier's shooting by German police won’t be completed soon
BAMBERG, Germany — The German prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the police’s fatal shooting last month of a U.S. soldier says the inquiry is taking longer than expected and a final report might not reach his desk for another month or two.
At this point, there is no indication the initial police version of the March 13-14 shooting of Pvt. Jeremiah W. Carmack has changed substantially, according to officials in the Bamberg prosecutor’s office. The delay apparently has more to do with unfinished reports and compiling existing material.
“We are waiting for expert opinions,” chief district attorney Joseph Düsel said Monday.
Carmack was shot and killed in the early morning hours of March 14 when he failed to heed police warnings in English not to move, according to German police. The mitigating factor is that Carmack was grasping an M-4 carbine, which he started to raise, a police spokesman said the following afternoon as he stood near the scene of the shooting.
A raised weapon makes for “a very dangerous situation,” said Karl-Heinz Schmitt, a police spokesman from Nuremberg.
How the 30-year-old soldier managed to slip the weapon off a U.S. military post in Schweinfurt on March 13 is the focus of one of the reports Düsel is waiting for. The Army expects to release it shortly.
“The investigation is complete, but it’s under review and not ready for release yet,” Lt. Col. Richard Spiegel, a spokesman for U.S. Army Europe, said Tuesday.
Carmack, a logistics specialist with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, was shot twice in the chest by a German SWAT team hours after he broke into the home of his former girlfriend, German police said. The incident occurred about 20 miles east of Schweinfurt in the small farming community of Altershausen.
The woman and her mother were not home at the time of the break-in, but they returned a short time later to find Carmack armed with a weapon and in their house, police said. He detained his girlfriend for a short period, but she managed to escape and contact German authorities. Carmack fled into a nearby field, where he was spotted around midnight. As the SWAT team closed in around him, he apparently made a wrong move and was shot.
“We have several investigations” pending, said Wolfgang Petrat, an official in the Bamberg district attorney’s office. Primarily, he added, “our interest is in what happened with the gun (as far as it leaving the base) and what happened when the police came.”
Police shootings in Germany — a land of 80 million people — are uncommon.
In 2006, there were 20 incidents in which German police shot an individual, according to a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry, citing statistics from a national police academy. Of that number, five were fatal.
“Police using their weapons is quite rare in Germany,” said Marcus Beyer, the ministry spokesman.