80 hours community service for policeman who shot at tractor

A farmers' protest in The Hague in October 2019. Photo: Molly Quell

The police officer who shot at a tractor during last July’s farmers’ protests has been found guilty of attempted manslaughter and given an 80-hour community service sentence and a one month, suspended jail term.

The public prosecution department had called for a suspended sentence and not community service,  but the court said the sentence did not match the severity of the facts.

The officer shot at the tractor during protests about the government’s strategy to cut nitrogen-based pollution on the A32 near Heerenveen. The vehicle was being driven by a 16-year-old youth at the time.

The police officer told the court he thought the youngster would drive the tractor over him, but the court said there was no real danger of this happening. The police officers were not on the road where the tractor was travelling and camera footage showed the officer who fired stepping forward before taking a shot.

“The suspect shot directly at the tractor cabin from a short distance away,” the court said. “The suspect must have realised that there was a large chance that the driver would have been killed.”

In the event, the bullet stuck in the cab door.

The officer’s lawyer told the court that police officer would keep his job because “he has an excellent service record.”

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