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French investigators have questioned 4 cops over the January arrest of a Paris supply driver who died from asphyxia after they pinned him to the bottom as he repeatedly shouted “I’m suffocating”, sources stated Monday.
France has been shaken by a wave of demonstrations in latest weeks towards brutality and racism by the police, an issue that has gained resonance since protests erupted in america over the killing by police of George Floyd.
Cedric Chouviat, 42, had been stopped by police near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on January three for a seemingly banal visitors management that shortly bought out of hand.
In video footage collected by investigators, he may be heard saying “I’m suffocating” seven instances in 22 seconds as police maintain him down, in accordance with a report on the incident written in April and revealed this week by newspaper Le Monde and web site Mediapart.
Video footage seems to indicate Chouviat with the burden of the police on his torso. In accordance with two witnesses, the supply driver was held in a chokehold, a controversial restraining approach that has been blamed for previous deaths.
“Apart from the arrest, we did not notice any flagrantly violent words or noises,” stated an professional who analysed footage of the incident.
“The exchange is relatively civil, even if we can sense a form of ‘provocation’ or ‘defiance’ in [Chouviat’s] words,” the professional added.
In accordance with evaluation of the footage, Chouviat calls the policemen ‘clowns’ and considered one of them a ‘loser’ and tells them a number of instances to not contact him.
“At 11 minutes 16 seconds [Chouviat] tells the policeman that he’s a ‘fool’. The officer decides to arrest him,” stated the professional.
“In the next 22 seconds we can hear different sounds we cannot identify. The arrested person says several times ‘I’m suffocating’. And we can hear one of the policemen say ‘All good, all good, cuffs on.'”
Chouviat, a father of 5, died in hospital from asphyxia two days after the arrest, with “a fracture to the larynx”, in accordance with parts of the post-mortem launched by Paris prosecutors.
Prosecutors have opened a case for “involuntary homicide”.
Not one of the policemen concerned has been suspended, and their lawyer Thibault de Montbrial declined to remark.
The police watchdog answerable for the investigation has transferred its findings to investigating magistrates who will now resolve whether or not the 4 officers will probably be charged.
Chouviat’s household has condemned what they time period an act of unjustified police violence attributable to what they stated had been “dangerous” restraint strategies.
Chouviat’s final phrases echoed Floyd’s dying plea “I can’t breathe”, which has rallied protesters internationally. The identical plea was made by 24-year-old Adama Traoré, who died whereas in police custody in July 2016 after he was equally pinned to the bottom with the mixed physique weight of three arresting officers, in accordance with the testimony of considered one of them.
Spurred into motion by the latest demonstrations towards police brutality, which younger black and Arab males say is commonly directed at them, the French authorities this month introduced it might ban the controversial chokehold approach.
However just a few days later, the federal government backtracked after a backlash by police unions, who demonstrated throughout France, throwing their handcuffs on the bottom in protest.
Within the days following Chouviat’s demise, Inside Minister Christophe Castaner promised sanctions towards officers “if wrongdoings are established”.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)