PARIS – Less than a week after France announced it would abandon police chokeholds, the government responded to growing officer discontent by announcing it would test stun guns for wider use, adding to the ranks of European law enforcement agencies that have recently adopted the weapons that many in the U.S. equate with excess police violence.
Then, on Monday, the government backed away from a complete chokehold ban, saying it would no longer teach the maneuver to recruits but allow its use until a better alternative emerges.
For Johny Louise, it felt as though the 22 seconds of Taser pulses that led to his son’s death counted for nothing.
“They need more death so that one day they understand, but it will be more pointless deaths and sufferings for families,” Louise said.
Gendarmes in Orléans responding to a drunken brawl tried to arrest his son, Loïc. One officer, Noham Cardoso, fired his Taser for the first time, hitting Loïc Louise in the chest with the twin darts and jolting him for a full 17 seconds, rather than the usual 5-second cycle, then hitting him again less than a minute later with another 5 seconds, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press. Loïc Louis, who was black, passed out and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Cardoso was charged last year with involuntary homicide in the Nov. 3, 2013, death. He has said Loïc Louise was aggressive and appeared ready to attack.
The officer’s lawyer, Ludovic de Villèle, can’t fathom why France would replace an immobilization technique with a weapon. He said it would make more sense to invent another technique to replace chokeholds.
“It’s a bad sign to say, ‘You can’t strangle, but here are Tasers for you to use,’” de Villèle said.