He was a Florentine, a small business owner, a veteran player of the Fiorentina football team, he lived in the traditional neighborhood of Florence, San Frediano. A good person, perfectly integrated into the social life of the city and of his neighborhood. An active person, with a sunny disposition, generous, he travelled often for his business and had contacts and friends all over the world.
Riccardo loved and was loved by everyone he ever met.
The night between the 2nd and the 3rd of March, Riccardo was out for a business dinner. After dinner, on his way back home, something happened which frightened him. He got out of the taxi he was in, visibly agitated and leaving behind all of his personal belongings: he was overcome by a panic attack. When he arrived in his neighborhood - Borgo San Frediano – he was looking for and screaming for “HELP!”. Many people phoned the “carabinieri” to notify them of a person who was calling out for help and needed assistance. They said, “there is someone in difficulty.” Once they arrived on the scene, the “carabinieri” immobilized Riccardo and handcuffed him, holding him facedown on the pavement. It all happened in the middle of the street, in front of many eyewitnesses who say they saw that Riccardo was kicked when he was down on the ground, while he was handcuffed. Many people could see the entire scene from their windows which overlook the street. And some even filmed the episode with amateur videos. In the recording, you can hear Riccardo shouting "aiuto" (Help), "mi sparano"(they are shooting), "aiuto aiuto sto morendo" (Help, help, I am dying) you can also hear in the background a by-stander shout “no i calci no!”(NO! No kicks!). In following, in the reconstruction of the minutes that go by, the gaps of time are readily seen: at 1,21am one of the police officers called the headquarters , explaining that they took charge of a situation with a person who was "completely out of his mind, bare torso, screaming". At 1,24am, the emergency operator (118) sent an ambulance. A vehicle left the nearby Red Cross center with three volunteers on board. At 1,31am , the headquarters of the “carabinieri” called the emergency operator again, because they could hear the siren of the ambulance nearby but it still had not arrived and the arrested man “is crazy and out of control.” At 1,32am, the emergency switchboard contacted the Red Cross center and one minute later, one of the volunteers called back, saying that they had arrived on the scene and that the man “reacted in a violent manner, two police officers are on top of him to keep him still and they want a doctor. “ and that a doctor is necessary to sedate the man who was arrested.
Later it is found out that upon arrival of the first ambulance, Riccardo was already on the ground and was still and silent. This condition, the volunteer did not mention during the phone call, just the opposite, she specifically omits this information to the headquarters, who at 1,35am contacted a doctor.
The situation, rather, immediately appeared critical and was neglected until its tragic outcome, so much so, that one of the emergency operators jokingly said, not having any sense of the drama which was unfolding, “ We need two strong men. There is a man who hit an officer with handcuffs. He won’t catch cold, he has two men on top of him!”
From this phrase, it is evident that at least two of the police officers continued to stay on top of Riccardo, even long after he had stopped shouting: Riccardo was already dead. The necessary medical aid was obstructed. The family decided to press charges against the four police officers “carabinieri” for manslaughter and against the paramedics for involuntary manslaughter. The eyewitnesses in fact confirmed that in order to immobilize and arrest Riccardo, the four police officers used – as written in the charges pressed by his brother and father – “an excessive use of force not foreseen or allowed by the law enforcement code for the techniques in immobilization, among which: choke hold around the neck with hands; kicking in the side and abdomen even after Riccardo was already lying facedown on the pavement; prolonged pressure by more than one agent on his body, compressing his torso in a facedown position on the asphalt.” In addition, while waiting for an ambulance with a doctor on board, during the intervention of the first paramedics on the scene, “they did not even take the initiative to move Riccardo from the position he was found in (moreover, with his bare abdomen on the cold asphalt) nor did they free him from the handcuffs, in order to allow him to be able to breathe better.” The four police officers could not find the key to remove the handcuffs. It is important to underline, that in the autopsy report from the Florentine magistrate, it is excluded that the cause of death was from overdose of cocaine, as has been asserted by the defense lawyer, seeing that there were only small traces of cocaine found in the blood equal to 0,4mg. Such an insignificant amount, not recent, could not be from that evening, and is nothing near the amount of 1000-1200mg which would cause an overdose, but it actually 3000 TIMES LESS.
The autopsy report indicates that the principle causes of death are related to cardiac dysfunction caused by the level of stress and agitation brought on by the situation that Riccardo was going through at that moment and from ASPHYXIA, which he certainly did not do to himself. There were found on Riccardo’s body, numerous signs of violence suffered that night, among which “broken ribs and sternum” as well as various internal bleeding, including his liver which corresponds to the testimony of the kicks he received.
From the very beginning, there was an attempt to cover up and hide the facts concerning what had happened. The four agents involved submitted charges against Riccardo and got doctor’s reports to document alleged “injuries inflicted” during an alleged outbreak. They charged Riccardo with resistance against a public official, violence, theft of a mobile phone (which he had taken to call for HELP). The eyewitnesses who testified of the brutal beating and other details of what happened that night were intimidated and threatened. In order to get her to testify immediately, one of the witnesses was even told that Riccardo would have been immediately tried that morning by a “direct” hearing, omitting the important fact that he was actually DEAD. And finally, not all of the audio material from the ambulance and Red Cross telephone calls (118) was provided by the magistrate. In fact, an important conversation where it was revealed that the paramedics were not permitted by the police officers who were present to intervene was omitted from the file.
Furthermore, in continuation of the unbelievable antics which they have invented: not satisfied by the medical report of the autopsy which was signed by all of the specialists, including the toxicologist who was nominated by the magistrate, Prof. Mari (who also had signed himself the report!) asked for the assistance of another toxicologist for an in-depth consultation by Prof. Bertol (HIS WIFE!) hoping to underline and confirm the hypothesis that the death of Riccardo was caused by drug use.
In the final analysis, thanks only to the decisive and firm action taken by the Magherini family, with their lawyer Fabio Anselmo by their side, who immediately sought out the truth, as is their right, something which had been denied them by the authorities, and supported by the growing movement in their city of Florence – and beyond – following the emergence of elements which told a completely different story than the “official” one, kept Riccardo’s death from ending up one that was forgotten and denied respect, like a long list unfortunately of other similar deaths.
In addition to the Comission for Human Rights of the Italian national Senate, which presented an interrogation questioning “illegal conduct” by the police officers that night, also Amnesty International has addressed a letter to the attention of the Ministry for Internal Affairs, asking for clarity regarding the investigation conducted by the Magistrate of Florence.
Riccardo died crushed on the asphalt while calling out, “Help, I have a son, a little boy, stop, enough!” He died when the first ambulance arrived on the scene without a doctor on board; he was already dead, because when the second ambulance arrived on the scene after fifteen minutes, the doctor began CPR but it was already too late.
He died from fear, from being beaten, because he could not breathe; he died because his heart, under those conditions, fought but then gave up. He died from ABUSE, from being TORTURED, he died in the hands of the officers who should have protected him, in their absurd intervention, inhumane and without reason…. He died handcuffed and he died at the hands of the state.
Riccardo is still awaiting cremation, as was his wish, and a proper burial by his loved ones: his body is still in a refrigerated cell in the forensic medicine’s morgue.
The investigation is still underway, let’s not make them wait much longer.
Written together with Guido Magherini and Andrea Magherini in Florence, Italy.
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