A 25-year-old woman died in Iceland last spring following a conflict with police, who interfered while she was in a psychotic state. The police officers were not charged even though a forensic specialist confirmed that their actions played a significant role in her death. Vísir reported on the case.
Hekla Lind Jónsdóttir was a good student with an interest in health and exercise. She began bodybuilding at the age of 18, and a short while later began using prescription drugs to aid in the process. They proved a gateway to other drugs, including amphetamines and cocaine, the use of which led to psychotic episodes. One such episode led to her arrest and, shortly after, her death.
Last April, Hekla’s parents received a call that she had gone into cardiac arrest and been taken to hospital. When they arrived, their daughter was hooked up to a breathing machine showing few vital signs. She was pronounced dead a few hours later.
Hekla had consumed amphetamine, cocaine, and sedatives the previous night, which had precipitated a psychotic episode. Her friends had called the emergency line several times to request an ambulance. Instead, two police officers appeared at the scene, which witnesses say increased Hekla’s state of agitation. Hekla attempted to run away but was eventually caught and arrested by police.
Two minutes and 14 seconds after handcuffing Hekla, the two police officers called for an ambulance, stating that she was barely conscious. Preliminary findings from the autopsy suggest that lying facedown in a constricted position while being handcuffed could have led to Hekla’s cardiac arrest.
“She died in the middle of the fight, that’s totally crazy, she died,” said one of the officers to the other after returning to the police car. While one witness heard the arrest take place, none saw the incident. The autopsy report, however, states that the police officers’ testimonies are not entirely consistent with Hekla’s injuries.
The District Attorney investigated the case last year but dropped it at the end of the summer as it was considered unlikely to lead to a conviction. The case was appealed to the Attorney General, who confirmed the decision. Hekla’s parents, however, are convinced the officers used unnecessary force and their method of arrest is what led to her death. Both the Capital Area Police Department and the Reykjavík Police Association declined to comment on the case.