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Judge shelves probe into officer who shot man in Barcelona knife attack

Magistrate finds that Abdelouahab Taib “put himself in danger” by yelling “Allah” just after the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Catalonia

Atentado en Cornella
Newly released security camera footage of the attack.

A female officer from the Catalan regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by a local court for fatally shooting a man at the Cornellà de Llobregat police station in Barcelona.

The incident occurred on August 20 at around 6am when the man, named as Abdelouahab Taib, entered the precinct carrying a knife and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).

The court in Cornellà, which is in charge of investigating the police response to the attack, has shelved the case, concluding that the officer used her service weapon as a last resort and only because her life was at risk. The attack occurred shortly after the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.

Taib knew perfectly well that the person behind the booth was an officer

Judge statement

In the court records, to which EL PAÍS has had access, the judge says that Taib launched a “direct attack” aimed at killing the female officer. According to the judge’s records, Taib entered the station and, when he was “just centimeters” from the front desk – an area with a glass front from which officers deal with members of the public for security reasons – he pulled out a “large knife” from his clothes and tried to stab her, as seen in newly released security camera images of the incident. As he pulls out the weapon, Taib screams “Allahu Akbar” and other Arabic phrases that the officer was not able to understand.

The judge argues that Taib knew that by attacking an armed officer and “making the cry of Allah and three days from the first anniversary of the terrorist attack in La Rambla in Barcelona,” he “was putting his life in great risk.”

“The choice of the victim – an officer of the Mossos d’Esquadra – was not a question of chance. Taib knew perfectly well that the person behind the booth was an officer,” the judge writes.

The Spanish High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, is investigating the motive behind Taib’s attack as the regional Mossos d’Esquadra initially contended that it was an “isolated terrorist attack.” Taib had been suffering from depression after he confessed to his wife that he was gay, according to the statement she gave to the Mossos as a witness in the investigation.

The Spanish High Court, is investigating the motive behind Taib’s attack

The judge says the attack was “painful and premeditated,” concluding Taib had a “strong” intention to kill people. Not only did he try to squeeze under the police window, he also followed the female officer into the station. The officer sought help from a sergeant but fired at Taib from the corridor when he tried to attack again. She fired at least four shots at him, three of which hit his leg, arm and head.

The judge found the officer not only acted in self-defense but also to protect the sergeant who was with her and the other officers who were just meters from the corridor getting ready to begin their shifts. According to the judge, the police statements have been corroborated by forensic and ballistic tests. In the court records, the judge adds that “until the moment he was taken down,” Taib “persevered in finishing the attack he began at the police booth.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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