Richmond Times-Dispatch

Paris police suspended following beating of Blackman

Officials call for investigat­ion after video is released


PARIS— A Black man beaten up by several French police officers said he is seeking justice after the publicatio­n of videos showing officers repeatedly punching him, using a truncheon and tear gas against him for no apparent reason.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered the officers involved in the case suspended.

The incident came as President Emmanuel Macron’s government is pushing a new bill that restricts the ability to film police, which has prompted protests from civil liberties groups and journalist­s concerned that it would allow police brutality to go undiscover­ed and unpunished.

Videos first published on Thursday by French news website Loopsider show the violent arrest of amusic producer, Michel Zecler, in the French capital on Saturday.

The video images obtained by The Associated Press, both from a security camera inside the studio and filmed by neighbors outside, show three officers following Zecler inside his music studio, where they can be seen repeatedly punching him and beating him with a truncheon.

Zecler told the Associated Press he feels “good” now that “the truth is out.”

“I want to understand why I have been assaulted by people who were wearing a police uniform. I want justice actually, because I believe in the justice of my country,” he said.

His lawyer, Hafida El Ali, said: “He asked them what they wanted, if they wanted to check his identity. ... They didn’t stop beating him, the video of the violence [inside the studio] lasts for 12 minutes.”

At some point the officers called in reinforcem­ents and went outside. They then threw a tear gas grenade into the studio to get those inside to come out, according El Ali.

El Ali said that nine others who were recording music in the studio basement were also beaten.

“Outside they are still beaten up and thrown to the ground and that’s the moment when a police officer sees they are being filmed,” she said. Then the violence stops.

Zecler was taken into custody.

“I’m obviously scandalize­d by these images,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said in a television interview.

Darmanin tweeted that the body that investigat­es allegation­s of police misconduct, the Inspectora­te General of the National Police, is looking into the case, saying, “I want disciplina­ry proceeding­s as soon as possible.”

The Paris police prefecture said in a statement that IGPN will seek to establish the exact circumstan­ces surroundin­g the man’s arrest.

The Paris prosecutor’s office is also investigat­ing the police actions. The prosecutor’s office said Thursday it has dropped the proceeding­s against Zecler opened the day of his arrest, and instead opened an investigat­ion for “acts of violence by a person in position of public authority” and “false declaratio­n.”z

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