Cédric Chouviat: French police charged over death of delivery driver

Mr Chouviat's family Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Chouviat’s family have called for charges carrying stiffer sentences

Three French police officers have been charged with manslaughter following the death of a delivery driver in Paris after a traffic stop in January.

Cédric Chouviat, a 42-year-old father-of-five, said “I’m suffocating” seven times as officers held him down, still wearing his scooter helmet, for about 20 seconds, footage showed.

His body then went limp and he died in hospital two days later.

A coroner later ruled he had died of asphyxia and a broken larynx.

A fourth officer is being investigated but has not been charged.

Mr Chouviat’s family say the manslaughter charges are not severe enough “for the violence and aggressiveness of the police officers” seen in video footage of the incident.

“Voluntary blows led to the death of Cédric Chouviat,” the family said in a statement. The charge of voluntary violence could lead to a harsher sentence under French law, AFP news agency reported.

His family also want the chokehold used on Mr Chouviat and another technique also used on him, where a person is forced onto the ground face down while pressure is put on their upper body, to be banned.

In June the former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said chokeholds would be banned. However, the decision was reversed just a few days later after a backlash from police unions, who held demonstrations across the country.

Chokeholds – a controversial and potentially deadly form of restraint – are outlawed in many countries.

Mr Chouviat was of Algerian origin. In France, young Black and Arab men say they are disproportionately the victims of police brutality.

France has seen demonstrations against police violence triggered by a report clearing police officers over the death of Adama Traoré, a young Black man who died in police custody in 2016.

One of the officers who arrested Mr Traoré has admitted that they used their combined body weight to pin him to the ground.

His death was likened to the police killing of George Floyd in the US, which sparked huge anti-racism protests around the world.