crime

Two men die in just three hours after being subdued by Catalan police

Mossos open internal inquiry in both cases, which took place in Barcelona and Tarragona

The outdoor café in Barcelona's Molina square where one of Wednesday's arrests took place. / MASSIMILIANO MINOCRI

Two men died in the space of just three hours on Wednesday after being subdued by members of the Catalan police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra. The Mossos have opened an internal investigation into both incidents.

In the first incident, police were called to an outdoor café in Molina square in Barcelona on Wednesday after a man reportedly began harassing customers.

The man’s identity was revealed on Thursday: he was a Catalan actor named Alfons Bayard, whose personal website notes that he participated in television series such as Aída (2011), La Riera (2011), Ventdelpla (2009), Hospital Central (2008) and El Cor de la Ciutat (2002).

“The family does not want to make any statements at this time,” said a source who was familiar with the deceased. Bayard had also had roles in film, and was working as a voice artist for radio and television spots.

The cases are reminiscent of the October 3 death of a 50-year-old local businessman

According to a spokesman for the Catalan interior department, Bayard refused to leave the area when he was ordered to by employees of the Bo Pan restaurant.

When two officers from the Mossos d’Esquadra arrived on the scene, the suspect reportedly became hostile. They called for backup, which soon arrived in the form of five more officers. The police said they had to wrestle the man to the ground before they could handcuff him.

“The man stood up to the Mossos,” said one eyewitness, Ricardo Castillo, who works at a delicatessen next door to Bo Pan. “They had trouble handcuffing him,” he told EL PAÍS.

After he was subdued, police said the man became pale and then fainted. Emergency services took him to a local hospital where he died shortly afterwards. According to the Mossos, the suspect suffered a heart attack.

Castillo said the man “had drunk about two or three cocktails” but he didn’t think that there was any police brutality on behalf of the officers.

The second man died in Salou, in Tarragona. He had to be subdued by Mossos after he had stabbed and assaulted his partner. The individual was arrested around 10pm on Wednesday night, and after struggling with police and being handcuffed, lost consciousness and later died, according to regional police sources.

The cases are reminiscent of the October 3 death of a 50-year-old local businessman who was allegedly beaten before he was arrested by a group of Mossos in Barcelona’s Ravel district. Eight officers are facing murder charges in connection with the death of Juan Andrés Benítez, who was allegedly punched, kneed and kicked when he was already on the ground as police tried to arrest him.

Prosecutors have also filed torture charges against the officers.

According to a motion filed with a judge, prosecutors described the police action as “excessive, out of proportion and an overreaction.”

Benítez, who owned several stores in the city's gay-friendly “Gayxample” district, died the following day from respiratory failure related to his injuries.

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