NL – The Supreme Court upheld a police officer’s suspended prison sentence of 6 months for assaulting Mitch Henriquez, resulting in his death in 2015. The cop is thereby definitely convicted for the Aruban man’s death after a chokehold was used on him when he was arrested at a music festival in The Hague, NU.nl reports.
Henriquez attended a music festival in The Hague in June 2015. In a drunken state, he shouted at a group of cops that he had a weapon, pointing at his crotch. Henriquez ignored warnings to back off and was then arrested for disrupting public order. A total of five cops detained him. A chockehold was used on the man. He became unwell and later died in hospital.
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) determined that two officers used disproportionate force on Henriquez. One was previously acquitted by the court, and the OM did not appeal in his case. The cop that was definitely convicted on Tuesday was the one who used a chokehold on Henriquez.
Given the associated risks, the use of the chokehold was unlawful, the court ruled. Henriquez’s death can therefore be blamed on the police officer. The Supreme Court upheld this ruling, stating that it was “not incorrect or incomprehensible”. The fact that the officer did not intend to kill Henriquez does not change that, the Supreme Court said.
Henriquez’s cousin is surprised, but pleased with the Supreme Court’s verdict, he said in a first reaction to Omroep West. “Actually I thought he would be acquitted,” he said. “This is a nice ending.”
Speaking through a spokesperson, Henriquez’s girlfriend Ella de Groot told the broadcaster that the rest of the family is also happy with the ruling. “I am glad we were not disappointed again. We have been disappointed in this process so many times.”
The family does not understand why the officers were not prosecuted for failing to help Henriquez when he became unwell, or why they are still allowed to work for the police. But they hope they can really start processing Mitch’s death now that the conviction is final. “Only we will never get Mitch back.”