Forensic report: "Crushed larynx" in police chokehold death

Mitch Henriques (Picture: Facebook/Mitch Henriquez)Mitch Henriques (Picture: Facebook/Mitch Henriquez)

The Rijksrecherche, the department that handles internal police investigations, has finished their investigation into the death of Aruban man Mitch Henriquez. According to the lawyer representing the Aruban man's family, the report indicates that Henriquez was "enormously abused".

The lawyer, Gerald Roethof, said this on television program Pauw on Thursday, NOS reports. The report states that Henriquez suffered a crushed larynx as the result of a chokehold and bruising on his head near his nose and temples, as well as his genitals. He also had two broken ribs, but could have sustained that injury during attempts to resuscitate him.

The Public Prosecutor confirmed to AD that the Rijksrecherche's investigation has been completed and that the report is at the Public Prosecutor's office.

Henriquez passed away in police custody late in June, following a violent arrest at a music festival in The Hague. The autopsy done on his body indicated that he likely suffocated due to a chokehold used during the arrest.

According to Roethof, the report give several reasons for Henriquez' arrest, including public drunkenness, disturbing public order, threat and refusing to comply with an order. The lawyer told Pauw that the threat at least was a misunderstanding. "He made a silly joke. He grabbed his genitals and said he had a weapon. Some officers did not take it seriously, but some other said that they felt very threatened."

Roethof believes that the legal proceedings against the five officers suspected of involvement in Henriquez' death may take two to three years to complete. "The prosecutor chose not to sue the officers and cross-examine them in a public hearing with witnesses. No, the officers' lawyers may first submit their investigation needs to an investigating judge, and only if they are implemented we will continue", he said. "I do not understand that the Public Prosecutor is leaving the family in uncertainty so long. This I have never seen in a case of violent death."

Henriquez death led to days of rioting in The Hague and hundreds of arrests. It also raised much controversy surrounding the police's use of chokeholds during arrests. The whole affair can be read here.

The article was corrected on 7 Nov. 2015 to fix a mistranslation with regard to head injuries suffered by Mr. Henriquez. We regret the error. Thanks to reader "zomooi" for pointing it out.