‘I’m Suffocating’: French Police Questioned Over Death of Delivery Driver

cedric chouviat

Getty Doria Chouviat (C) prays after addressing a crowd on January 12, 2020 during a rally in Levallois for her late husband, Cedric Chouviat.

Four french police officers are being questioned over the January death of a delivery driver after harrowing footage emerged of his arrest.

Videos surfaced Tuesday showing french officers near the Eiffel Tower pinning 42-year-old Cédric Chouviat to the ground in a chokehold, according to the New York Times. The father of five can be heard saying “I’m suffocating” seven times in 22 seconds, the newspaper continued, paralleling the killing of George Floyd — whose death sparked global outrage and demands for police reform across the United States and Europe.

NYT said Chouviat later went into cardiac arrest and died on Jan. 5.

The videos have “reignited” concern over the “heavy-handed tactics “used by French authorities, the Times reported. The four unidentified officers are now being questioned for “involuntary homicide,” The Guardian added.

Chouviat’s family is demanding answers.

“We’re calling for calm. France isn’t the United States, but France is becoming like the United States,” William Bourdon, one of the Chouviat family’s lawyers said at a press conference, according to The Guardian.

Following the videos’ release, Chouviat’s family not only called on President Emmanuel Macron to order the suspension of the four officers, but also to push for a nationwide ban on police chokeholds, The Guardian continued.

The New York Times said family members are demanding a ban against officers pinning people to the ground during arrests.

None of the police involved in Chouviat’s arrest have been suspended, The Guardian added.

Chouviat was Stopped for ‘Looking at his Mobile Phone’ &  having a ‘Dirty License Plate’

Police said they stopped Chouviat on his scooter for looking at his mobile phone and because had a dirty license plate, The Guardian reported. Officers claimed the delivery driver was disrespectful and resisted arrest, the outlet continued.

After nine minutes and 44 seconds, according to tapes examined by investigators, the interaction took a sharp turn, The Guardian disclosed. Chouviat can be heard calling an officer a “fool” several times.

Witnesses told the daily newspaper Le Monde that authorities held Chouviat in a chokehold, the Guardian reported. He had a heart attack and died two days later after falling into a coma, the outlet continued.

Chouviat’s autopsy showed that he had a broken larynx, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office, the Guardian added.

The office also opened a manslaughter investigation that same month, according to NYT.

Despite ‘Legitimate’ Concerns, Police Were Not Questioned Until Last Week

chouviat son

GettyRyan Chouviat (C), the son of Cedric Chouviat, speaks during a press conference in Paris, on June 23, 2020.

The New York Times wrote that Castaner met with Chouviat’s family following his death. Although he revealed that he had “legitimate questions” surrounding the case, the police involved were not questioned until recently, the newspaper added.

The officers have yet to be identified or suspended or charged with any crimes, according to the Times.

Because previous bystander footage only captured part of the arrest, NYT said, the recent video is helping to fill in the gaps.

Chokeholds are Still Allowed Until September

french police

GettyMembers of French police unions including Alliance Police nationale, hold a banner reading ‘no police no peace’, during a protest from the Champs-Elysees Avenue to the Interior Ministry, on June 12, 2020 in Paris, against the French Interior Minister’s latests announcements following demonstrations against racism and police violence.

The Times reported that Castaner announced earlier this month the banning of chokeholds.

Although the ban sought to prevent officers from pressing on a suspect’s neck, they could still  “forcefully grab suspects from behind and force them to the ground if necessary,” NYT stated.

But French police pushed back, the newspaper said, organizing demonstrations across the country.

The Times reported that officers are allowed to continue using the chokehold until September, “when an alternative method for arresting violent suspects is supposed to be unveiled.”

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