New footage sheds more light on Turkish man's death in French police custody

Anadolu Agency acquires video showing Merter Keskin's last moments at French police station.

New footage sheds more light on Turkish man's death in French police custody

New footage obtained by Anadolu Agency sheds more light on the last moments of a Turkish man who died at a police station in France last year after being violently manhandled by officers.

Merter Keskin, 35, died sometime between Jan. 12-13 while in custody at a police station in the town of Selestat.

Surveillance video from his cell showed he was handcuffed and tackled by officers using a technique known as “ventral plating,” which has proven fatal in at least three cases.

In new footage acquired by Anadolu Agency, Keskin is seen being brought into the station by officers, walking calmly with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

The video contradicts police officers’ claims that Keskin was uncooperative and restless in custody.

Keskin is then seen lying motionless on a bench in the cell. An officer checks if he is breathing, lifting his arm before letting it drop to the floor.

After a few moments, two police officers lift him off the bench and place him on the floor, with Keskin still showing no signs of life.

A cop then removes his shirt and taps him twice on the face before starting chest compressions.

With this new video, it is evident that officers wasted about two minutes after initially realizing Keskin had stopped breathing before trying to resuscitate him.

Excessive use of police force in France

French police have previously been accused of using the “ventral plating” technique in the deaths of Cedric Chouviat, Adama Traore, and Mohamed Gabsi.

Chouviat’s family even appealed to the interior minister in 2020 to prohibit police from using the dangerous method.

Used to immobilize a suspect, it involves pressing down and keeping a suspect’s belly on the ground, head turned to the side and handcuffed at the back.

In the US, police used the same technique on George Floyd, whose May 2020 death sparked global protests.

In Keskin’s case, an officer is seen crushing him with his knee and is later joined by two more policemen who try to immobilize the Turkish man.

Police continued to overpower him as he remains flat on his stomach, handcuffed for more than three minutes.

He was declared dead after emergency services arrived at 5 a.m. local time (0300GMT). Initial findings determined the cause of death was a “heart rhythm disorder.”

According to medical files seen by Anadolu Agency, the medical examiner noted “a moderate asphyxiation syndrome,” and the autopsy revealed cyanosis in his arms, head and neck suggesting that the level of oxygen in his blood may have been low, resulting in an abnormally bluish coloring of the skin.

The death certificate concludes that he suffered “cardiorespiratory arrest.”

Police statements

Keskin was arrested on Jan. 12, 2021 on charges of domestic violence.

A police officer who was at the station told the National Police Investigation Unit (IGPN) that he saw blood on the edge of Keskin’s mouth when he was brought to the station, and that he could not stand up unassisted.

A second officer said the Turkish national complained of chest pain twice before he was taken into custody, and that his request for a glass of water was also denied.

A third police officer said it was clear that Keskin should have been taken to a hospital but the officers failed to act responsibly claiming that there was not enough time.