North African immigrant Cédric Chouviat lost consciousness and died during a police investigation on the road on January 3, Le Monde reported on Wednesday (local time). The 43-year-old driver was on his motorcycle, passing Quai Branly Museum near Eiffel Tower in Paris. Police officers approached him on the grounds that Chouviat drove while holding a smartphone in his hand and his license plate was too dirty for the license number to be identified.
Chouviat protested claiming that he didn’t do anything wrong, to which the police officers laughed and made a sexual joke. There began scuffles between the two, which led to a physical fight. Four police officers pinned him to the ground and tried to put handcuffs on while pushing down the back of his neck. Chouviat pleaded, “I am suffocating,” seven times for 22 seconds.
However, the police officers did not stop and Chouviat lost consciousness due to difficulty with breathing. The police officers called an ambulance, but he was already in a coma when it arrived. He passed away two days after being hospitalized. An autopsy has found that the causes of his death were suffocation and fracture in the back of the head due to exterior pressure. He had five children.
The four police officers, however, did not receive any disciplinary action or investigation afterward. After the continuous complaint of Chouviat’s family, the police finally began an investigation on June 17. The incident was revealed as a video of the incident was reported to French media.
The police officers in question are claiming that they couldn’t hear him saying he was suffocating at all. However, Le Monde reported that the police officers’ testimonies are not reliable – for example, a hands-free device installed on Chouviat’s motorcycle, unlike the police officers’ claim that he was holding a mobile phone in hand. The banning of chokehold and prone restraint has been suspended due to strong opposition to the police union regarding the difficulty of addressing terror attacks or violent crimes. “Chokehold and prone restraint should be banned as soon as possible. French President Emmanuel Macron should be held responsible and come up with necessary measures,” Chouviat’s daughter, Sophia Chouviat, said during a press conference held on Tuesday (local time) in Paris.
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