Questions raised about Zwolle man's death in police custody
Tomy Holten, who died in a cell complex in Zwolle on March 14 shortly after being arrested in a supermarket, was commemorated in the city on Wednesday evening. His death received little attention until footage of George Floyd's fatal arrest appeared online, NOS reports.
The commemoration was organized by Keti Koti Dialoog Tafels, a Zwolle organization that wants to make the Netherlands' slavery history a discussable topic. The organization wrote that Holten was in the shopping center on March 14 to buy food. "He was arrested violently and died an hour later in custody." The organization gathered at "the scene of the crime" on Wednesday evening to place flowers and "dwell on Tomy and the consequences of racism and police brutality in our country and the world".
Video of Holten's arrest was also posted online. It shows a cop pressing his shoe down on Holten's face as the man lay on the ground. The Rijksrecherche, the department that handles internal investigations at government services like the police, is investigating the arrest and the police's actions.
According to the Public Prosecutor, Holten was arrested for repeatedly harassing people. He moved restlessly through the store, pulled on the bags of other customers, and told a supermarket employee to shoot him, the Prosecutor said, according to NOS. The supermarket decided to call the police. The Prosecutor called Holten's behavior "very deviant and disturbing", especially because it happened just after the Netherlands implemented its lockdown against the coronavirus.
RTV Oost spoke to Holten's brother, who said that Tomy had problems. "Of course I immediately believed that he bothered people. I know how he could be. I know the stories that he needed money." His brother had been through a lot in his life and was addicted to drugs, he said. "Once you are on the wrong train in the Netherlands, you can never come back."