The police officers accused in the case of the death of Ibrahima Barrie plead for acquittal: “a dramatic accident, not a blunder”

The police officers accused in the case of the death of Ibrahima Barrie plead for acquittal: “a dramatic accident, not a blunder”
The police officers accused in the case of the death of Ibrahima Barrie plead for acquittal: “a dramatic accident, not a blunder”

Counsel for the four police officers accused in the case relating to the death of Ibrahima Barrie pleaded for acquittal on Friday before the Brussels Criminal Court. This 23-year-old young man died in a police cell in January 2021, following a heart attack. Four police officers are accused of failing to assist a person in danger.

“It’s a regrettable and dramatic accident, not a police blunder”, pleaded the advice of one of the police officers. “My client and his colleagues reacted immediately and took the necessary actions by calling for help. My client also has no medical training and had never seen anyone have a heart attack before. To establish that there was failure to assist a person in danger, it is necessary to prove that my client was aware of the problem that arose and the serious danger that threatened the victim. It must then be proven that he had no intention of helping her. This is the only legal question that the court must ask itself”he argued.

”I understand the steps taken by the victim’s family and I would undoubtedly have done exactly the same in the same circumstances. I understand the pain that comes from losing a family member.”, declared one of the accused police officers, at the end of the hearing. “But I maintain that I did my job,” he said.

Three of the four defendants did not agree to a suspension of the sentencing in the event of proven guilt, because they are innocent, they insisted.

Before the close of the proceedings, the president of the court spoke to the parties about the Médiante service, a mediation service independent of the ongoing legal proceedings. It is intended for parties who would like to talk to each other with a view to a better understanding of the offenses and related emotions, or even with a view to appeasement between them or to repair the damage.

Ibrahima Barrie, a young man aged 23, was arrested near Brussels-North station in Schaerbeek on January 9, 2021 because he was filming a police intervention and because he had tried to flee when a patrol wanted to check him. He was then taken to a police station on rue de Brabant in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. In the cell, he collapsed, suffering from a heart attack. He was subsequently transported to hospital but could not be resuscitated.

The investigation revealed that Ibrahima Barrie suffered from a heart defect, that he had taken ecstasy and cannabis, and that he was particularly out of breath after running to escape the police. Furthermore, it appears that, according to images from the police station’s video surveillance cameras, five to seven minutes passed between Ibrahima Barrie’s loss of consciousness and the police’s reaction.

Two police officers were referred to the Brussels criminal court for failure to assist a person in danger and two others were cited directly before the same court by the civil party. Last Friday, the prosecutor requested acquittal with the benefit of the doubt for the defendants, while the civil party requested a reclassification of the facts as manslaughter due to lack of foresight and precaution.

The judgment will be pronounced on June 26 at 1:00 p.m.

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