SOUTH YORKSHIRE, England (FOX 9) - Police in England say they have made an arrest in connection to the death of Adam Johnson, a hockey player from Minnesota who was killed while on the ice in October.
The incident happened while Johnson was playing hockey for the Nottingham Panthers in England's Elite Hockey League.
The South Yorkshire police say they have taken a suspect into custody on suspicion of manslaughter. Johnson, who played college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and in the NHL for the Pittsburg Penguins, died after a player's skate cut his neck open during a collision on the ice.
In a statement, the South Yorkshire Police said:
"We have been speaking to highly specialised experts in their field to assist in our enquiries and continue to work closely with the health and safety department at Sheffield City Council, which is supporting our ongoing investigation.
"Adam's death has sent shockwaves through many communities, from our local residents here in Sheffield to ice hockey fans across the world. We know these communities will expect us to handle this investigation with the same professionalism, fairness and sensitivity as any other and request that members of the public refrain from comment and speculation which could hinder this process. Our thoughts remain with all affected by this devastating incident as enquiries continue."
In an update on Nov. 15, South Yorkshire Police said the man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in Johnson's death has been released on police bail. The department added, "Our investigation continues and we will provide further updates as and when we can."
"For somebody to be charged with murder or manslaughter in England is a lot more rare than it is in the United States," Hamline University Political Science Professor David Schultz told FOX 9. Schultz studied criminal law and the law of the European Union, while earning a master’s degree at the University of London. He says similar to law in the United States, a potential charge of manslaughter covers reckless and negligent acts that demonstrate a willful indifference to human life, whether or not intentional.
But there are a couple of differences if a suspect is formally charged and convicted.
"We punish with much longer terms in prison than does England," Schultz explained. He also points out that England does not have a rule to exclude illegally obtained evidence from being used in court; making it potentially easier to get more evidence in during a trial.
"Even though they’re saying suspicion of manslaughter, since he hasn’t been charged yet, there’s nothing that preclude multiple charges, or even charge him with murder at this point," Schultz finished.
Johnson played 13 games over parts of the 2018-19 and 2019–20 seasons playing for the Penguins. He had a goal, against the Minnesota Wild and three assists in his NHL career.