Prague, Czech Republic – A Romani man has died in the Czech city of Teplice, northern Bohemia, while in police custody in an incident activists were quick to compare to the death of George Floyd in the U.S. in 2020.
Czech Romani man dies after police intervention
Dramatic footage of the arrest shows a young Romani man being arrested by three police officers, with one of them kneeling on his neck for several minutes while a second one is holding his feet.
The man later died in the ambulance called to the scene.
Dismissing allegations of police brutality, police claim his death was caused by drugs allegedly consumed by the Romani man.
Widely shared on social media, the video has prompted outrage in the Czech Republic’s Roma community and beyond, with activists comparing the incident to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
Michal Miko, head of the Romanonet organisation, described the arrest as “the height of brutality”. Andrew Stroehlein from Human Rights Watch pointed to “obvious parallels to the killing of George Floyd” and called for a “full, independent investigation.”
Early reports suggest police arrived on the scene to handle “a scuffle between two drug-addicted people who were under the influence of narcotics at the time.”
“Is this the Czech version of Floyd’s case?”
While one was able to flee the scene, the second man was arrested and detained by the three police officers, according to police spokeswoman Veronika Hysplerova, insisting the man’s death was caused by drug consumption.
While the investigation is still pending, some remain unconvinced by the official version of what went down.
“From the video footage it is apparent that yet another person has died as a consequence of a police intervention,” said Petr Torak, a former British police officer and Romani from the Czech Republic.
“Is this the Czech version of Floyd’s case? I will be carefully following the investigation and hoping that if the officers are found to be at fault, the Czech legal system and all of society will condemn this police brutality and hold the officers accountable.”
Some activists have called for demonstrations to protest the use of “disproportionate force” and “brutality” of police officers.