Cops knew Aruban man was dead immediately after chokehold arrest: lip-reader

Mitch Henriquez
Mitch Henriquez. (Mitch Henriquez / Facebook)

The police officers involved in the fatal arrest of Aruban man Mitch Henriquez in 2015, knew that he was dead almost immediately after the arrest, according to a lip reader who analyzed what the officers said to each other based on footage of the arrest. As Henriquez lay motionless on the floor, the officers said things like "It's finished", "He doesn't respond" and "According to me, dead", said the lip-reader's report, which was revealed in court on Wednesday, RTL Nieuws reports.

The lip-reader analyzed what the officers said at the request of lawyer Richard Korver, who is representing Henriquez's relatives. According to the lawyer, these statements show that the officers knew that Henriquez was clinically dead while they were still in the Hague park where he was arrested. Despite this, they did not start resuscitation. He was loaded into a police van and taken to a police station. Only there did he receive first aid, the lawyer said in court.

The lawyer representing the two police officers charged with Henriquez's death, called the report "messy" and denies that the officers ever spoke about death. "Maybe they said something like 'dead tired', that would be much more logical", the lawyer said. 

Henriquez died in hospital one day after being arrested at a music festival in The Hague in June 2015. He was arrested after shouting at police officers that he had a weapon and grabbing his crotch. According to the police, he vehemently resisted arrest and the officers had to use force to overpower him. One of the arresting officers used a chokehold on him.

An initial report by the Netherlands Forensic Institute stated that Henriquez suffocated due to a crushed larynx, likely caused by the chokehold used on him during his arrest. Earlier this year, a forensic doctor hired by the lawyers representing the two police officers, stated that it is much more likely that the 42-year-old Aruban man died of cardiac arrest. Due to the vastly different findings in these two reports, a third specialist was called in to determine Henriquez' cause of death. 

On Tuesday this third expert told the court that Henriquez likely died due to acute stress, probably because of the struggle between him and the officers trying to arrest him. Several experts mentioned the so-called Acute Stress Syndrome as being at least partially responsible for his death, according to RTL Nieuws.