The then 18-year-old Benjamin Christian Schou was on New Year’s Eve 1992 in the City Hall Square in Copenhagen. At 0.20 Schou was arrested and placed in a leg lock. The police’s rationale for arresting and placing Schou in a leg lock was the police’s view that Schou had thrown bottles at them and then tried to escape.
Three officers lay on top of Benjamin. One of them pressed his knee hard against his back, while another tugged at his scarf. He was placed in a leg lock and carried into a police vehicle, after which he was taken to the local police station. Upon arrival, police officers found him unconscious and began heart lung resuscitation on him. During the transport, however, he had suffered a cardiac arrest, and although the policemen revived him, the brain had been without oxygen for so long that Benjamin Schou was brain damaged. Later he was declared 100% disabled. Benjamin Schou did not regain consciousness and lived in a nursing home, where he died on the night of September 5, 2008; at the age of almost 35 years.
Benjamin Schou is buried at Holmens Kirkegård in Copenhagen.
The family subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the Copenhagen Police, and on Benjamin’s 22nd birthday, 17 November 1995, the Eastern District Court ordered the police to pay compensation in the then record-breaking amount of 1.4 million. DKK. The court based its verdict on the fact that the police officers should have reacted and discovered that Benjamin Schou was not conscious. However, the officers were not held personally responsible for the case.
In 1994, it was forbidden for the police to use the ‘fixed leg lock’ method, just as the police’s harsh treatment of Benjamin Schou led to criticism of Denmark in Amnesty International’s annual report.
Many years after the episode, Benjamin is still remembered in the left-wing environment, which during demonstrations etc. often used the battle cry Do you remember Benjamin? against the police. But the police have also used the term, i.a. during the 18 May 1993 riots to remind those arrested how bad things can go if you resist arrest.