BERLIN -- A top security official in Germany vowed Thursday to fully investigate the fatal police shooting of a 16-year-old Senegalese boy that has sparked a debate about excessive force by the country's law enforcement officers.
The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Herbert Reul, said the killing of the teenager in the city of Dortmund on Monday "will be cleared up 100 percent,” German news agency dpa quoted him as saying.
"But it has to be done fairly,” the minister added.
Authorities alleged the teenager, who lived in Germany as an asylum-seeker, attacked officers with a knife at a youth support center in Dortmund. Social workers at the center had called police because they thought the boy was suicidal, dpa reported.
The teenager, whose name wasn’t released for privacy reasons, was shot five times with a machine pistol and died of his wounds, the news agency said.
Several hundred people attended a Wednesday night protest in Dortmund, alleging police used disproportionate violence.
Reul, the state interior minister, said the police officers tried various methods to deescalate the situation at the center.
“First, plainclothes police officers went there and tried to calm him down. When that didn’t work, they tried to distract him with irritant gas,” he said.
The officers then twice used a Taser on the teenager, according to Reul. The stun gun hit the boy once, but also without effect, he said.
“As the person got more and more agitated, I’ll say more tense, more aggressive, running toward the police officers ... it was a question of - does he stab — or do the police shoot?” Reul added.
The police officer who fired his pistol is under investigation by police from neighboring Recklinghausen who were not involved in the incident, he said.
The public prosecutor’s office in Dortmund, which is also investigating, said Wednesday that the teenager was in a psychiatric hospital shortly before the fatal shooting. He went to the hospital on his own initiative because of psychological problems, Senior Public Prosecutor Carsten Dombert said.
It was not immediately clear what kind of psychological problems the teenager was experiencing and when and why he came to Germany to seek asylum. He reportedly did not speak German well, dpa said.
Follow AP's coverage of global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration