Ten police officers who were involved in the arrest of a man who died in police custody after being blasted with a electric shock weapon have been confined to office duties while the investigation continues.
Rotterdam police chief Fred Westerbeke said on Thursday he recognised that a lot is still unclear about what happened. “That makes it extra difficult for the family,” he said.
“It is essential that a careful and independent investigation is carried out by the national police force under the leadership of the public prosecution department,” he said. “For now, the 10 officers have been confined to indoor duties and will not work on the street.”
The public prosecution department said on Thursday that the police actions did contribute to the man’s death on June 9 but the inquiry is still underway.
The 32-year-old man was arrested in the port city’s Kralingen district after reports that someone in a “confused state” had jumped on a car. After a chase, the police used a taser to get him “under control”.
Shortly afterwards he became unwell and was declared dead on his arrival in hospital.
The prosecutor says that eyewitness statements, camera footage and checks by a forensic doctor indicate that the police had a role in the death.
The department has again asked eyewitnesses and people who have camera footage to come forward.
Two carers who were looking after an elderly man in a nearby house told AD.nl earlier this month they had watched the incident unfold from the balcony.
“After they’d overpowered him the first time, he tried to get up again,” said one. “Then they all sat on top of him, I was horrified.”
Her colleague said the man tried to resist at first, but the officers pinned him down. “The screaming slowly turned to crying,” she said. “And then suddenly it went quiet,” the first carer added. “‘He’s dead,’ I said straight away.”