The Iranian judiciary said on Saturday it has launched an investigation into the death of a man in northeast Iran who reportedly died of suffocation from police pepper spray.
The man was filmed being beaten by a police officer while under custody prior to his death.
A video, taken in the city Mashhad on Tuesday and originally shared by BBC Persian on Saturday, showed a policeman repeatedly tasing and pepper spraying a man who was handcuffed to a metal pole in public.
The man, identified as Mehrdad Sepehri, eventually died of suffocation in a police car from the pepper spray used against him, the BBC reported citing a family member of Sepehri.
It seems as if every week we have a #GeorgeFloyd type police violence in Islamic Republic of Iran.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 24, 2020
Mehrdad Sepheri died after he was doused with pepper spray. As can be seen in the video, his hands were tied, but still he was sprayed & hit with an electric baton#MehrdadSepehri pic.twitter.com/f9hFCkxjtr
Medical examiners have confirmed Sepehri’s cause of death as suffocation from the pepper spray, his family members told the BBC.
Sepehri was taken to the police car after becoming unconscious, according to his family, who has added that he died before being taken to hospital.
The video of Sepehri being beaten went viral, sparking outcry on social media. Shortly after, state media reported - citing a judiciary official - that an investigation has been launched into the matter.
A case regarding Sepehri’s death has been filed with the military prosecutor’s office of Khorasan Razavi province, where Mashhad is located, the judiciary’s news agency Mizan reported the province’s military prosecutor Mehdi Akhlaghi as saying.
Sepehri’s family has also filed a complaint against the police with the prosecutor’s office, Akhlaghi said.
Authorities have requested a lung biopsy to investigate whether the pepper spray was a contributing factor in Sepehri’s death, he added.
Earlier this month, a video of Iranian police officers beating alleged criminals while parading them on the back of police vehicles in public went viral, also sparking an outcry on social media.