Wednesday, May 18

Police violence. Death of Cédric Chouviat: new medical expertise overwhelms the police

A summary medical report contributed to the investigation into the death of delivery man Cédric Chouviat after a police check on January 3, 2020 in Paris confirmed the responsibility of the three officials, according to its conclusions.

In this document dated January 8, the five experts appointed by the examining magistrate retain as the cause of death a “simultaneous association of several factors” resulting from the gestures of arrest having “resulted in a very rapid deprivation of oxygen to the brain “. The 42-year-old father had been tackled to the ground with his motorcycle helmet on his head during this check just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, causing his discomfort. Hospitalized in critical condition, he will be declared dead on January 5, 2020.

The summary expertise notes that “the morphology” of Mr. Chouviat, “obese” and with a “short neck”, “participated in the occurrence of cardiac arrest”. But all the other death factors noted by the experts relate to the actions of the police when they tried to handcuff Mr. Chouviat to the ground. The movement of the “forearm passed under the chin” of the delivery man caused, according to them, a “mechanical crushing of the trachea” and the “carotid”, while a police officer could also have shot at the jugular of the helmet while trying to control Mr. Chouviat, which “could be the cause of the fractures” observed in the neck.

The family denounces from the beginning a “blunder”

From the start, the family has denounced a “police blunder” caused by “dangerous” methods of arrest, “rear strangulation”, a technique now banned, and calls for a reclassification of the facts as “willful violence resulting in death”, a crime punishable by assize. Like a first heart expertise rendered in August 2020, the summary expertise, on the other hand, rules out the role played by Mr. Chouviat’s “previous cardiovascular condition” in his death, mentioned in the first autopsy report.

This factor is “theoretically possible but unlikely”, write the experts. Three of the four police officers who participated in this Quai Branly check were indicted in July 2020 for “manslaughter”, while a fourth is an assisted witness.

The police are accused by the family of not having reacted quickly enough to the obvious signs of asphyxiation of Mr. Chouviat, who said nine times “I am suffocating” before feeling unwell.
Experts believe that in this moment of “extreme tension”, “it is conceivable that after having immobilized the victim, the peacekeepers did not react immediately to the observation that the movements had stopped and the absence responsiveness” by Mr. Chouviat.

Asked, Me Laurent-Franck Lienard, lawyer for two of the police officers, did not wish to comment. Me Thibault de Montbrial, lawyer for the other two, did not respond to AFP.

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