French security officers cleared over black man’s death in custody

French investigating magistrates have dropped their case against three gendarmes over the 2016 death of a young black man in custody that sparked violent protests, lawyers said Friday.

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Adama Traore, 24, died shortly after being arrested in the town of Beaumont-sur-Oise, with his death triggering accusations of police brutality and racism, and several nights of protests.

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Gendarmes are police-style units often used for law enforcement in rural areas.

Authorities said at the time that an autopsy revealed he had been suffering from a serious infection and that his body showed few signs of violence.

Investigating magistrates were tasked with probing whether the three arresting officers used disproportionate force against Traore whom they apprehended after a chase in July 2016 during a heatwave with temperatures of 37 Celsius (99 Fahrenheit) during a police operation targeting his brother, Bagui.

The officers were never charged.

The Traore family’s lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, said Friday he would appeal the magistrates’ decision, which he said was based on “contradictions, inconsistencies and serious violations of the law”.

The object of the appeal was to get the Paris appeals court to order the three officers to stand trial, he told AFP.

Traore’s older sister, Assa, has been leading protests since his death, including an annual commemorative march.

Read morePolice violence: How can France tackle racial profiling without first addressing race?

But a court banned the march this year, fearful of reigniting unrest sparked by the police killing of 17-year-old Nahel M. at a traffic stop near Paris in June.


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