A twenty-year-old man who escaped from police custody last Tuesday has been apprehended. According to a statement from the police, five other people have also been arrested.
Escape from the District Courthouse
On Tuesday, April 19, twenty-year-old Gabríel Douane Boama escaped from police custody at the District Court in downtown Reykjavík.
Gabríel was accused, alongside four others, of having ganged up on a man in his twenties outside Kjarvalsstaðir on July 18 of last year, coercing the man to transfer ISK 892,000 ($7,000 / €6,400) into his bank account with three separate transfers.
On the night of the escape, Gabríel published two posts on Instagram, one of which indicated that he was hiding out in the Vesturbær neighbourhood of Reykjavík.
Twice mistaken for the fugitive
On Wednesday, April 20, the police received a tip that Gabríel was riding on a city bus.
Special forces stopped the bus and boarded – only to discover that the person responsible for the tip had mistaken a 16-year-old boy for the fugitive. The boy, whose friends called him a cab and accompanied him home, was considerably distressed.
The incident provoked its share of criticism, raising questions about racial profiling.
Musician Logi Pedró Stefánsson questioned the methods employed by the police to call attention to a wanted individual on social media and in the news. “It’s unacceptable that armed special forces barge in and remove a 16-year-old child only because he has the same haircut as a wanted individual,” Logi wrote.
The boy’s mother also contacted the police to express her dismay that young men of colour were in danger of being harassed by the police. National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir stated that she was sorry that an innocent boy had been entangled in police operations.
Déjà vu all over again
A day later, the same 16-year-old boy was again mistaken for the fugitive at a bakery in the Mjódd neighbourhood of Reykjavík. According to reports, “a man in a Tesla” called the police with a tip.
As reported by Fréttablaðið, a video of the event showed the boy and his mother seated at a table in the bakery when police officers approached: “I knew it!” she exclaimed before telling them that they were “not allowed to talk to her child.”
Yesterday, Gabríel Douane Boama published another post on Instagram, posing alongside a friend within an undisclosed apartment. Nearly twelve hours later, the Capital Area Police announced that they had apprehended Gabríel after “significant operations.”
Five other people were also arrested, with police investigating if any of the individuals had been complicit in Gabríel’s escape.