Hundreds of police officers gathered at Place Poelaert in Brussels on Monday morning in support of three of their colleagues sentenced last Tuesday for their involvement in a fatal car chase in 2017.
The protest took place outside the judicial buildings, where three police officers involved in a fatal car chase received prison sentences ranging from five to ten months on Tuesday 5 December.
The protestors believe that the convicted officers were merely fulfilling their duties and did not deserve the ruling. "We are officers, not criminals," the slogan read.
Many expressed concern about the ruling's implications for how officers were supposed to carry out their jobs. "We wonder about the future interventions and laws that will follow this ruling," Brussels president of SNPS police union Marc-Margy Durant told BXL.
The car chase occurred on 9 May 2017 when a police patrol noticed a motorcyclist (Ouassim Toumi, 24) with a passenger (Sabrina El Bakkali, 20) driving recklessly in the city centre.
Toumi evaded the high-speed car chase that ensued, but a separate dog brigade heard about the incident via police radio and blocked the end of the Bailli tunnel with one of its patrol cars. Toumi subsequently collided with the car and died instantly. El Bakkali was severely injured and died in hospital later that night.
The court concluded that the chase was disproportionate and hence unjustified. The judges said that the officers should have realised that such a pursuit in a densely populated area would be too dangerous.