Isaac Tshitenda, a 34-year-old, died in a police station on Saturday evening in the Walloon city of Verviers after suffering from heart failure.
Tshitenda had been let into the police station at 23:00 after “frantically” banging on the station’s door on Saturday night. He had willingly gone to the police and had not been arrested.
In the station, Tshitenda collapsed and was declared dead at 23:40.
The local prosecutor Gilles de Villers Grand Champs told Sudinfo that “he seemed somewhat in a dream-like state and not his normal self,” according to the police. “They had to control him and could not leave him like that without (Tshitenda) being taken care of,” the prosecutor added before explaining how the police had attempted first aid on him with no success.
“It’s dramatic really,” he added before stating his belief that Tshitenda died of natural causes. As the 34-year-old was in relatively good health, it came as a shock to many to hear the news, especially given the recent rise of deaths in police custody.
However, a forensic report revealed on Monday that he had been suffering from a heart problem.
Tshitenda’s family and friends published a statement on social media after “seeing posts with unverified information and theories about what happened.” They indicated that “at this stage, we still don’t have any answers” but would provide them in due course, with an investigation currently underway into his death.
Tshitenda’s loved ones also took time to remember “our beloved Isaac, who was our son, our brother, our nephew, our uncle and friend.”
He had also previously been a candidate for the French-speaking Green party (Ecolo) in 2018, during local elections in Verviers.
Sudinfo stated that all of the town’s residents “will remember his huge smile and constant good mood,” many of whom are expected to attend Tshitenda’s funeral on Saturday.