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He needed help, not a bullet


ACTION • Justice for Mateusz


Relatives and activists held a memorial for Mateusz, killed by police brutality.

memorial - Police brutality - Rotterdam

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On June 9, 2023, 32-year-old Dutch-Polish Mateusz was killed by police brutality. Relatives held a memorial demanding justice.


On June 9, 2023, 32-year-old Dutch-Polish Mateusz was killed by police brutality. He was a
psychiatric patient who keyed a car. Police came after him in as many as ten cars – he was on a
bicycle. They tasered him, only to beat, kick and strangle him as he lay on the ground. Video
footage showed the police officers getting up after a long time, while Mateusz remained
motionless on the ground.

Mateusz was not the first to die from disproportionate police brutality. Remon Kalloe, Mitch
Henriquez, Sammy Baker and many others preceded him. Yazan al Madani, for example, shot
eight times at the age of 27 while in psychosis. Or Mitchel Winters, also in a confused state, and
shot seven times at the age of 21 by three police officers. Akef Ibrahimi mentions all of them in
his speech at Mateusz’s memorial service and comes to a conclusion: men from migrant
backgrounds who exhibit confused behavior are overrepresented in murder statistics from police


It was an emotional and powerful memorial on Rotterdam’s Coolsingel, with support from Het
Actiefonds. In speeches by the father, a friend, the family’s lawyer, and the organizer Ibrahimi. It
concluded with the laying of flowers and two minutes of silence.

The speeches called for justice and prosecution of the executioners who had killed Mateusz. On
GoFundMe, people could donate money to the family to cover legal costs. Sadness, grief and
dismay prevailed. As friend Claudia put it:

“Why did the police hit Mateusz so hard, why was a taser deployed on someone who had no
weapons and above all was in a mentally unstable state, why couldn’t the police recognize a
person with mental problems, after all they should have been trained for that?”


The officers involved in Mateusz’s death were already able to return to work as soon as last
October, some even in the same position. Fortunately, it was announced last month that their
eight officers will be prosecuted for Mateusz’s death. It is already something, although we will
await the verdict to know if justice prevailed.

After all, incidents like these do not play out in a vacuum. In recent years, police have been
given more and more space and means to use force to maintain order, such as the 2022 law
authorizing the use of tasers. This expanding monopoly on violence goes hand in hand with
legal irresponsibility when police action leads to deadly consequences.

The prosecution of Mateusz’s perpetrators is an exception: according to research by Control Alt
Delete, the prosecution proceeds to prosecute in only one percent of reports. Between 2016
and 2019, only four officers were fined for excessive police brutality, and none were prosecuted
for discrimination. For context, in 2019 alone, police reported 24 thousand cases of use of force,
a number that has steadily risen to nearly 35 thousand in the following years.