A French minister has ordered the suspension of police officers filmed beating and racially abusing a black music producer in Paris on Saturday.
The incident was captured on CCTV and made headline news on French television channels.
Videos first published on Thursday by French news website Loopsider show the violent arrest of Michel Zecler, in the 17th arrondissement of the French capital on Saturday.
The footage shows three officers following Mr Zecler inside his music studio, where they can be seen repeatedly punching and beating him with a truncheon.
Mr Zecler told reporters on Thursday he had been walking around nearby without a face mask – against French COVID-19 health protocols – and upon seeing a police car, went into his music studio to avoid getting a fine.
However, the police followed him inside and attacked him.
“I was lucky enough, unlike many other people, to have had the video that protects me,” he said.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has ordered the suspension of officers involved and said they would be sanctioned if the alleged wrongdoing was confirmed.
“When people overstep the boundaries, they must give up the uniform of the Republic, they must be sanctioned and they must be punished by the justice system,” Mr Darmanin said.
Earlier, he said on Twitter that France’s IGPN police watchdog is investigating the allegations.
The Paris police force has already faced criticism this week after people posted videos on social media of police hitting demonstrators as they cleared a migrant camp in central Paris on Monday.
Mr Darmanin called the images “shocking” and said the officers who carried out the violence would be punished.
Hafida El-Ali, the lawyer representing Mr Zecler, said her client would be making a formal complaint against the police over the incident.
She told the Associated Press; “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.”
Two of France’s top football players, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, spoke out against police violence on their Twitter feeds.
“Unbearable video, inadmissible violence,” Mbappe tweeted.
France’s government is trying to push through a law that would make it a crime to circulate images of police officers in certain circumstances.
Following protest by journalists’ organisations and opposition politicians, the prime minister’s office said on Thursday it will set up a commission, tasked with proposing a new version of the bill.
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