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‘I’m suffocating’: French delivery driver’s last words echo George Floyd case

A French delivery driver who died after being arrested in Paris pleaded “I’m suffocating” several times as police held him to the ground.

Footage has emerged of 42-year-old Cédric Chouviat pronouncing he couldn’t breathe seven times in 22 seconds as officers pinned him to the ground.

Four cops are being questioned for “involuntary homicide” over the arrest close to the Eiffel Tower in January that echoes the death of George Floyd within the US that has sparked global protests and Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Police said they stopped Chouviat on his scooter after claiming he was looking at his mobile phone and had a dirty licence plate. Officers claim he was disrespectful and abusive and resisted arrest.

However, a report by using the National Gendarmerie Institute for Criminal Research suggested the exchanges between the police and the delivery driver were “correct”, although officials may additionally have felt he changed into being “provocative” or “defiant”.

Tapes examined through investigators suggest the situation became after nine mins and 44 seconds of exchanges wherein Chouviat can be heard calling an officer a “fool” numerous times.

According to witnesses quoted by way of Le Monde, the officers held Chouviat, a father of five, in a chokehold, a controversial restraint technique that changed into banned by the interior minister, Christophe Castaner, this month then reinstated after complaints from police.

In a report on the incident via investigators, visible with the aid of Le Monde, the investigative website Mediapart and the news enterprise Agence France-Presse, a professional who analysed several video recordings of the arrest declared: “Apart from the arrest, we did not notice any flagrantly violent words or noises. The exchange is relatively civil, even if we are able to sense a form of ‘provocation’ or ‘defiance’ in (Couviat’s) words.”

It adds: “At 11 mins 16 seconds (Couviat) tells the police officer that he’s a ‘fool’. The officer decides to arrest him. In the next 22 seconds we are able to hear one-of-a-kind sounds we cannot identify. The arrested person says several times ‘I’m suffocating’ . We can hear one in every of the cops say, ‘All good, all good, handcuffs on’.

Chouviat had a coronary heart attack and became taken to health center in a coma. He died two days later. A postmortem concluded he had died from asphyxia having sustained a “fracture of the larynx”.

None of the cops has been suspended. Laurent-Franck Lienard, a lawyer for three of them, told LCI they had not heard Chouviat’s ultimate words and “had surely no idea” what he was saying.

Lienard said the arrested man had subjected police to “around 15 minutes of insults”, calling them “clowns”, “puppets” and “fools”. He stated his customers had not used the chokehold.

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