A 50-year-old Barcelona businessman who died after he was beaten by a group of Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra police officers last month had a very small amount of cocaine in his body at the time of his death, according to a toxicology report obtained by EL PAÍS.
But experts say that forensic findings that Juan Andrés Benítez, who owned clothing stores in the city’s “Gayxample” district, had 0.01 percent of the drug per liter of blood in his system may contradict what officers and other witnesses have told a judge investigating the case: that Benítez was extremely violent, appeared to be under the influence of narcotics, and was even foaming at the mouth.
The report, which investigating judge Eva Moltó has in her possession, does not say whether the cocaine had already metabolized at the time the blood samples were taken from Benítez’s body. However, experts consulted by EL PAÍS said the amounts detected were “small” and “insignificant” from any toxicologist’s point of view.
A video taken on the night of the incident on October 5 shows a group of Mossos beating a man on a sidewalk in Barcelona’s Raval district. The police had been called to the scene after Benítez was involved in a scuffle with another man who he had accused of taking his dog.
Forensic experts say that cocaine does not remain detectable in the system for a “very long period” — usually less than two hours. For that reason, “detecting high concentrations in plasma is rare.”
The toxic level for cocaine is considered to be one milligram per liter of blood, they say.
The report also showed a very minimal amount of alcohol in Benítez’s system — 0.1 grams per liter of blood. But the forensic experts believe that that finding “could be attributed to post mortem endogenous production” — which is to say it was produced by his own body after death.