Human rights groups and lawyers have criticised French police restraint techniques after a 42-year-old delivery driver died after being held on the ground during a police check near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
France’s citizens’ rights ombudsman, Jacques Toubon opened an inquiry into the case of Cédric Chouviat, a father of five, who was stopped on Friday by police and died in hospital 48 hours later.
Police reportedly stopped Chouviat because they believed he had been looking at his phone while on a scooter. Video footage taken by mobile phone appeared to show Chouviat being held face down on the ground by officers, while his legs were shaking. The autopsy showed that when he died 48 hours later in hospital, there were signs of asphyxiation and a fractured larynx.
Paris prosecutors have opened their own preliminary manslaughter investigation to determine the exact circumstances of the police arrest. They will look at whether or not police holding Chouviat on the ground with the pressure of their weight on his torso might have played a role. The police watchdog is also investigating the case.
Lawyers for Chouviat’s family accused the authorities of trying to cover up heavy-handed police tactics.
The lawyer William Bourdon, said the death was the result of a “culture of impunity and denial that encourages police and absolves them of responsibility.”