Family urges Macron to act after Frenchman's arrest death

"Behind the chokehold, there is a state of mind, an unease," Chouviat's widow, Doria, told a press conference

The family of a French delivery man who died in January after his arrest in Paris called Tuesday for the suspension of four officers and urged President Emmanuel Macron to take action.

Cedric Chouviat, 42, a father of five, died in hospital two days after being pinned to the ground by officers in central Paris. It emerged this week he had shouted "I'm suffocating" repeatedly while being arrested.

France has seen demonstrations in recent weeks against alleged brutality and racism by the police, a controversy that has gained resonance since protests erupted in the United States over the killing by police of George Floyd.

Chouviat was stopped by police close to the Eiffel Tower in Paris on January 3 for a traffic control that degenerated into tensions.

In video footage collected by investigators, he can be heard saying "I'm suffocating" seven times.

The lawyers for the four police officers involved, who have been questioned but not suspended, said Tuesday their clients didn't hear Chouviat's plea.

He died in hospital two days after the arrest from the consequences of asphyxia, with "a fracture to the larynx", according to elements of the autopsy released by Paris prosecutors.

"We want a firm response from President Emmanuel Macron," Chouviat's daughter Sofia told a press conference on Tuesday.

Video footage appears to show Chouviat with the weight of the police on his torso and according to two witnesses, the delivery driver was held in a chokehold.

"We still don't understand why (the four policemen) haven't been suspended and we don't understand why the restraint technique (a chokehold) still hasn't been banned," Chouviat's daughter said.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced a ban on the controversial technique earlier this month but backtracked after a backlash by police unions who demonstrated across France.

Castaner later said it would continue to be used while officials sought alternative techniques.

"Behind the chokehold, there is a state of mind, an unease," said Chouviat's widow, Doria.

"It's too late for Cedric, but this is a good opportunity for the government to stop giving in to police unions blackmail and question things," she added.

According to a family lawyers, William Bourdon, the restraint technique -- which involves applying weight and pressure to a person's torso as they are held face-down on the ground ?- has a "paradoxical and perverse" effect.

"The person struggles because they are suffocating and the police, fixated on immobilisation, do the opposite of what they should do," Bourdon said.

Prosecutors have opened a investigation into "involuntary homicide".

"Behind the chokehold, there is a state of mind, an unease," Chouviat's widow, Doria, told a press conference