Man killed by single shot by policeman’s partner

A conflict that culminated in the death of a young man in Tallinn’s Freedom Square yesterday escalated unusually quickly for officers responding to the call. What is most peculiar – the young man wearing no shoes and brandishing two knives did not utter a single threatening word. Even his dash toward the officers that culminated in the man’s death was wordless.

The barefoot man turned out to be the brother of owner of TransferWise, one of Estonia’s wealthiest people Kristo Käärmann, Jaanus (33). The northern criminal police tried to recreate every minute of the last 24 hours of Jaanus’ life yesterday.

This should help detectives understand what led the young father into a mental state that could be described as madness. “We know his trajectory, and we can reconstruct his movements by Wednesday (today – ed.),” the northern police prefect said.

Information available to Postimees suggests Jaanus left his downtown home on Tuesday morning and headed for the Old Town. For the police, dramatic events started at 11.04 when the alarm center received a call about a man brandishing knives in the Town Hall Square. The minutes it took the alarm center to determine the man’s location must have seemed long for eyewitnesses.

Real-time CCTV coverage showed the man taking Harju street, then turning back toward the square, before changing direction again and heading for the Freedom Square.

The patrol car rushing to the scene was kept up to speed on the man’s location. The cameras showed a man mumbling to himself and clutching two knives walking. The suspect did not bother a single pedestrian, while he did get people’s attention.

The patrol caught up to the man in the Freedom Square when the latter walked toward officers near St John’s Church. Ten minutes had passed since the alarm center received the first call.

One of the police officers ordered the man to put the knife down. Hearing that, the man stopped for a moment and took a few steps back. When the policeman repeated his instruction, the man raised both of his hands, still holding the knives, and dashed toward the officer pointing their service weapon at him.

In the time it took the attacker to travel ten meters, the officer opposite him fired three warning shots into the air. The only effect the shots had was to cause the attacker to take a sideways stance; he did not stop his advance.

That is when the first police officer’s partner who had been covering his colleague, having grabbed a riot shield from a nearby police vehicle, intervened. The officer dropped the shield and reached for his Glock.

Time was short. The officer managed to fire a single shot that hit the attacker in the back. The shot proved fatal – the attacker fell to the ground and died in the Mustamäe hospital 20 minutes later.

The investigation will determine whether Jaanus, who was clearly exhibiting signs of derangement, was under the influence of psychotropic substances or suffering from a disease. During the night before, Jaanus had published a social media post in English that makes mention of “ice” and “outer space”.

Northern Police Prefect Kristjan Jaani said that videos of the incident show the patrol handled the situation correctly. “We do not know the consequences of that attack had the partner of its target not shot the assailant,” Jaani said. “We train our people to react adequately in these kinds of situations.”