A 33-year-old man died after an arrest by the municipal police in Béziers as part of the containment against the epidemic of coronavirus. An investigation into manslaughter was opened by the Béziers prosecution.

A thirty-something died Wednesday evening at the police station of Béziers in the Hérault after an arrest "difficult" by the municipal police within the framework of a control of the measures of containment, indicated on Thursday the parquet floor, which ordered an investigation for "homicide involuntary". The 33-year-old victim, a man who has been convicted eight times since 2005, in particular for violence and theft, died after being transported to the police station by three municipal police officers.

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The latter had carried out its control around 10:20 pm Wednesday in the streets of Béziers, where a curfew is in force from 9 pm, said the prosecutor Raphaël Balland. The death of the thirty-something was noted around 11:30 pm by a doctor from SMUR, "after more than three quarters of an hour of resuscitation attempt at the premises of the Béziers police station," added Raphaël Balland in a press release.

An arrest that goes wrong

The prosecutor went to the scene, ordered "an investigation in the act of manslaughter" and entrusted the first investigations to the Béziers police station. The rest of the investigation is entrusted to the police officers of the departmental security of Montpellier. The prosecution said it plans to request the opening of judicial information in the coming days in order to continue the investigations under the direction of an investigating magistrate of the Béziers court.

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According to police statements, the victim "refused control, adopted very aggressive behavior against them, justifying, according to them, to arrest him". Still according to the police, the man then "strongly resisted the arrest for a long time" and it would have been difficult to handcuff him and "get him into the back of their vehicle while keeping him on his stomach".

"Sitting on the buttocks" of the "excited" victim

"A municipal policeman would then have sat on the buttocks of the still very excited individual in order to keep him until his driving" at the police station, according to the account of the prosecutor. "He would have calmed down during the brief transport, the three police officers claiming to have heard him 'snoring', letting them think that he had fallen asleep," he said. But when they arrived in the courtyard of the police station, "the individual arrested was unconscious", and the gestures of help given by the police and then by the emergency services were "in vain".

Investigations were still underway midday Thursday, including toxicological research. An autopsy is to take place in Montpellier on Friday afternoon. The deceased thirty-something, born in Béziers and unemployed, was the father of three young children in the care of their mother, from whom he was separated.