Europe

Dutch police shocked as crowd film man fighting for life

Picture showing people crowded outside Hague restaurant Image copyright Jan Hendrikstraat police station
Image caption Police blurred out the images of the bystanders to protect their anonymity

Dutch police officer Gerwin Ouwehand could not believe it.

While he and his colleagues were trying to save the life of a man lying on the floor in a restaurant in The Hague, a crowd had gathered outside to film it all on their mobile phones.

"This just can't be true," said the man's wife. "He's lying there dying and they're just filming it?"

So appalled was the officer that he wrote the whole story on Facebook in attempt to get his point across.

His message: "Imagine it was one of your loved ones. How would you feel?"

A policeman's story

It was Wednesday evening when his police station in the centre of The Hague took the call, he explains.

"Can you go to the Grote Markt for a resuscitation?"

Sirens and blue lights on, they reach the restaurant where a woman is already trying to resuscitate the man.

Officer Ouwehand guides other diners out of the restaurant as his colleagues rush past and take over CPR, preparing to use a portable defibrillator.

"That moment I look for the victim's partner. She's sitting at a table, deeply distressed," he writes.

"He won't die, will he?" the woman asks. As he tries to reassure her they look outside and see "to their horror" a group of 20 to 30 people through the window, some of them with their phones out filming.

The officer describes how he ran outside and told the group "in no uncertain terms" that they should leave and be ashamed of themselves.

By now the man's heartbeat has been restored and when the ambulance arrives he is conscious. The man's wife accompanies him to hospital and he is described by police as doing well in the circumstances.

Back at the police station, Officer Ouwehand and his colleagues struggle to understand what possessed the crowd at the restaurant window.

"As police we have no words for this," the officer concludes. They were people who found it necessary to stare and even to film.

"We wish we could have confronted them."

More on this story