Police chief promised not to fire cops after fatal arrest: report

Protest in The Hague against police brutality after Mitch Henriquez' death in police custody (Picture: Twitter/@afadenhaag)Protest in The Hague against police brutality after Mitch Henriquez' death in police custody (Picture: Twitter/@afadenhaag)

Police chef Gerard Bouman promised the five police officers involved in Mitch Henriquez' death in custody that they will not loose their jobs, NRC reports based on confidential correspondence in its possession. 

Bouman stepped down as police chief earlier this year.

NRC bases its report on an email by by team chief of the Delft police Ronald Kruijswijk. In the email he tells his team about a meeting he attended between Bouman and the five police officers on September 17th last year. That is almost three months after Henriquez death.

"Bouman was profoundly concerned and he made the colleagues a number of strong commitments during the meeting", Kruijswijk writes, according to the newspaper. All five officers were suspended and considered suspects at the time. Those commitments included that the suspected officers will "immediately get" their police pass back, so they have access to the police stations and gym. The "financial consequences of suspension will be reversed". Allowances will be paid out again. And most importantly, the officers were guaranteed that they won't be fired "whatever happens".

The police chief announced his resignation two weeks after this meeting. He would not comment on these guarantees to NRC.

Current police chief Erik Akerboom, who took over from Bouman in March, "took note" of the commitments his predecessor made, a police spokesperson said tot he newspaper. According to the spokesperson, he now faces the task of carefully further implementing the procedures around the disciplinary and criminal processes against these officers.

Last month the Public Prosecutor announced that two of the five officers will be prosecuted. They are facing assault resulting in death, or manslaughter chargers. The other three will not be prosecuted. They will however be suspended until the internal police investigation is done. The outcome is expected later this month, according to NRC.

Mitch Henriquez died a day after being arrested at a music festival in The Hague in June last year. The police officers used a chokehold in the arrest. An autopsy later revealed that Henriquez died due to a crushed larynx, likely caused by the chokehold. Henriquez’ death resulted in days of riots in the Hague neighborhood of Schilderswijk.