Family of Aruba man killed in arrest says new video shows police mistakes

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

The family of an Aruban man who died during an arrest while he was on vacation in the Netherlands wants the European Court of Justice to determine if the investigation into the arrest was handled properly. The family of Mitch Henriquez also want expert testimony from a lip reader to help interpret new camera footage from the day of the arrest they say shows one officer picking up Henriquez's lifeless body, when another pushes the body back to the ground. They also say the video shows that Henriquez's face was purple from a lack of oxygen.

It is not consistent with the police statement that Henriquez resisted for the entire duration of his arrest, the Henriquez family attorney said, according to the Volkskrant.

Over the next two weeks two of the five officers allegedly involved in the death of Mitch Henriquez while in police custody will be on trial for abuse with fatal outcome, homicide or involuntary manslaughter. The two officers state that they did nothing wrong and that no unnecessary violence was used, according to RTL Nieuws reporting on past questioning of the pair.

Henriquez, 42, died in June 2015 in the Zuiderpark in Den Haag after a heavy-handed arrest. The man was taken by force because he shouted that he was armed, police claim. They continue to state that he was not cooperating with the police forces, and thus the arresting officers used pepper spray and a choke hold, a maneuver which was temporarily banned by authorities after the death.

Both officers declared they find Henriquez's death awful, but the officer that performed the choke hold said that he acted with "a clear conscience" and did not use "any unnecessary violence". According to the other agent, they had to use a proportional amount of violence since Mitch Henriquez responded "with a lot of resistance" to the arrest. In questioning conducted by the National Police Internal Investigations Department the two police agents claim that no wrong actions were undertaken, RTL said.

Surviving family members of Henriquez are convinced much of the police dossier is unverifiable, and hopes the European court will qualify the investigation as insufficient. 

Jennifer Petrocthi, the former partner of Henriquez said, "He was a kind man, a good father, he did not deserve what they did to him". When asked in an interview with RTL, she said the family has sincere expectations of the upcoming trial. "From this two weeks of a trial we expect justice, an apology from the police officers, that they regret what they did, so that we can continue with our life. Since two years our life has been a trauma. It was not necessary to use so much violence against him."

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