A French delivery man who died after getting pinned to the ground by authorities pleaded that he was suffocating, a resemblance to the death of black American George Floyd that sparked a widespread protest.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that 42-year-old Cedric Chouviat repeatedly pleaded he could not breathe when four police officers pinned him to the ground near the Eiffel Tower in January.
Police said they ordered Chouviat to stop while on his scooter, claiming he was looking at his mobile phone and had a dirty licence plate, besides being disrespectful, abusive, and who resisted arrest.
The involved authorities were being questioned for involuntary homicide.
Meanwhile, a report by the National Gendarmerie Institute for Criminal Research suggested that the exchange between the authorities and the victim were correct, albeit officers may have mistakenly taken the victim’s actions as provocative.
Tapes examined by investigators can be heard the victim repeatedly saying the officers were a fool.
French newspaper Le Monde also quoted witnesses as saying that officers held Chouviat in a chokehold to restrain him, although the technique was briefly banned by Interior Minister Christophe Castaner then reinstated following complaints from the police.
In a report by the investigators and was analysed by Agence France-Presse, they said that they did not notice any violent words during the exchange.
“The exchange is relatively civil, even if we can sense a form of ‘provocation’ or ‘defiance’ in (Couviat’s) words,” they said.
At past 11 minutes, Couviat was said to be heard telling the police officer that he was a “fool” following his arrest.
“In the next 22 seconds, we can hear different sounds we cannot identify. The arrested person says several times ‘I’m suffocating’. We can hear one of the police officers say, ‘All good, all good, handcuffs on’.”
Chouviat suffered from a heart attack and was declared under comatose for two days before dying. An examination concluded that he died of asphyxia, having sustained a fracture of the larynx.
Meanwhile, none of the involved authorities was suspended and has said that they had no idea what the victim was saying.
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