Three French police officers have been charged with manslaughter in the death of 42-year-old Cédric Chouviat in January. Chouviat, who is North African, can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” seven times in the 22 seconds that he is pinned to the ground.
Chouviat had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital in a coma. He died two days later after suffering from asphyxiation and a fracture of the larynx, according to a prosecutor’s report.
Two of the officers were charged last week, a judicial source told AFP, and a third was charged on Thursday, according to Chouviat’s lawyer. A fourth officer involved is under investigation but has not been charged.
Chouviat’s arrest is eerily similar to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a US police officer in May, causing the largest protest in American history and igniting conversations about racial inequalities and discrimination on a global scale.
“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.
‘Violence and Aggressiveness of Police’
Chouviat’s family claims the footage of the incident proves a manslaughter charge isn’t punitive enough “for the violence and aggressiveness of the police officers.”
“Voluntary blows led to the death of Cedric Chouviat,” the family said in a statement. Under French law, a charge of “voluntary violence” could carry a higher penalty than manslaughter.
Choviat’s family has also asked that chokeholds where pressure is applied to a suspect’s backside be banned.
Former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced a ban on chokeholds in June but reversed his decision after French police protested the new restrictions.
PARIS – Plusieurs centaines de policiers en colère jettent leurs menottes.
Le mouvement se poursuit dans la longueur désormais. pic.twitter.com/KeuWRMh0z4
— Clément Lanot (@ClementLanot) June 23, 2020