Three French police officers have been charged with manslaughter of a delivery driver after a coroner ruled he died of asphyxia and a broken larynx.
Police stopped 42-year-old father of five, Cedric Chouviat, of Algerian origin, who was riding on his scooter near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, in January.
Footage reviewed by investigators shows him shouting “I’m suffocating” seven times whilst officers held him down, still wearing his helmet.
He died in hospital two days later. A fourth officer is being investigated.
Chouviat’s family have said the charges against the officers are not strong enough given how violent and aggressive the police officers were.
They have called for the chokehold and restraint techniques police used on Chouviat to be banned.
In June, former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced chokeholds would be prohibited but repealed the ban after police protested.
Chouviat’s murder came not long after a police officer killed George Floyd in Minneapolis in the US by kneeling on his neck, whilst other officers looked on.
In his last moments, Floyd struggled to say: “I can’t breathe.”
Some 15,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Paris in the aftermath of Floyd’s death to protest against police brutality and racism.
In 2016 a black Frenchman, Adama Traore, died in police custody yet the cause of death has still not been established. His supporters were among the demonstrators.
A report has just cleared the officers who arrested Traore, even though one of them admitted they pinned him to the ground.
Racial discrimination in France was evident during the coronavirus lockdown when neighbourhoods housing immigrants suffered disproportionate deaths.
In Seine-Saint-Denis the death rate was 60 times higher than the national average and far more lockdown breach fines were handed out.
In 2019 a study found that “deeply rooted institutional racism” is prevalent in criminal justice systems across the EU, which has led to a “justice gap.”