By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A French court has found three police officers guilty of manslaughter following the killing of a black man, Amadou Koumé in 2015 during his arrest in Paris.
The court on Tuesday handed a 15-month suspended prison sentences on the accused.
The three officers were all found guilty of “faults” that led to Koumé’s death, including an “insufficiently controlled” use of force and leaving the 33-year-old in a vulnerable position without inquiring about his health.
Two of the defendants had strangled Amadou Koumé and pressed their knees on him during the arrest. The third man on trial had been the senior officer on duty.
The 33-year-old father, who suffered from dementia, died in March 2015 after he was pinned to the ground by officers in a bar, put in a chokehold and left handcuffed on his front for more than six minutes.
An autopsy later revealed that the cause of death was “slow mechanical asphyxiation” inside the police van.
Koumé’s family have welcomed the guilty verdicts from the Paris criminal court but says the suspended sentences are “lenient”.
“It is a satisfaction to hear the word guilty in such a case, but the sentence is relatively lenient, so there is a piece of justice that has been done,” said Eddy Arneton, the Koumé family lawyer.
“It will not bring back Amadou, but his family now knows precisely the circumstances in which he died and also knows that his death was caused by police officers, so it is a step, and we welcome it as such,” he added.
Koumé’s death came five years before the killing of George Floyd in the United States, which prompted global protests against racial discrimination.
In 2020, the French government pledged “zero tolerance” for racism within the police, and subsequently stopped teaching officers the controversial “chokehold” arrest technique.
The convicts may appeal the verdict of the court.