“Father takes son to his death and wins €10,000”

Police unions are in shock this morning after the decision of an appeal court over a young officer who accidentally killed a child while chasing a convicted criminal.
Father-of-one Hugo Ernano has seen his nine-year jail sentence reduced to four years, suspended, but he still has to pay out a whopping €45,000 in compensation to his victims’ parents – despite the fact that one is in jail for a catalogue of crimes and both have been found negligent as parents.
“It will be very difficult trying to calm our professionals and explain this situation,” Nuno Guedes of the APG GNR officers union told journalists after the appeal court ruling.
The decision will “demotivate” GNR officers even more than they already are, he added – as Ernano’s lawyer has declared he will be appealing against the decision. Ricardo Vieira told journalists that he was “surprised and saddened” by the court’s decision, while Ernano himself simply said that he could not pay the €45,000 ‘fine’, as he earns “only €800 a month”.
Talking to journalists on television last night, Ernano called the appeal court ruling a “half victory”, while this morning one newspaper went further, with the headline: “Father takes son to his death and wins €10,000”.
The case goes back six long years and centres on the fateful night when Sandro Lourenço – a convicted thief on the run from justice – took his 13-year-old son in the back of his vehicle when he and an accomplice went to rob a dairy in Loures.
A subsequent police chase through the streets resulted in Ernano opening fire, with tragic consequences. Lourenço’s son was on the back seat, unknown to the officer, and a stray bullet killed him.
Appeal court judges considered Ernano’s use of his police issue revolver “disproportional and unwise” even though they accepted that he had been “acting with the intention to detain individuals who had just committed a theft”.
APG’s Nuno Guedes said afterwards: “One of the principal missions of the GNR is to protect the property of third parties, and this is exactly what Hugo Ernano was doing.”
Newspapers reported that the judges agreed both the dead boy’s parents were negligent in the way they had looked after their son, and that the father particularly “had contributed to his death by putting him in a dangerous situation”.
Thus the original ruling that the father should receive €20,000 in damages was reduced to €10,000, and the mother’s original €40,000 payout was reduced to €35,000.