A car chase has ended with police shooting dead the car’s yakuza driver after he repeatedly attempted to ram his way past police.
The incident began in the early hours of the morning, when two police officers spotted a “suspicious” car at an Osaka restaurant parking lot and approached it to question the occupants.
Rather than be questioned, the driver drove off through a fence, and police promptly gave chase.
Police finally managed to stop the car at an intersection 20 minutes later after a 15km pursuit, and disembarked to effect an arrest, but the yakuza repeatedly rammed the patrol car in an effort to escape, prompting police to open fire.
Police fired several warning shots into the vehicle’s tires, but these were apparently ignored and police proceeded to fire repeatedly into the driver’s side, hitting him once in the chest.
The mortally wounded driver, identified as a member of the Yamaguchi syndicate, was arrested on charges of attempted murder and interfering with official duties, but died shortly after being taken to hospital.
His companion, an unemployed 47-year-old man, was uninjured and arrested on charges of interfering with official duties, but maintains he “was just sat next to” the dead gangster.
Police maintain their use of deadly force was appropriate due to “the driver’s repeated traffic infractions and ramming of a police vehicle, and the fear he might endanger the public.”
Japanese police are generally highly reluctant to even brandish their weapons (and face potentially career-ending censure if they do so inappropriately), let alone open fire, so their decision to open fire on a vehicle is unusual in the extreme.
No explanation has so far been offered as to why the yakuza’s man was so eager to avoid police, but police suspected his vehicle may have been used in a spate of local thefts from vehicles and recovered a suspect tool from the car.