France Suspends Police Officers After Video Shows Them Brutally Assaulting Black Man

The video shows several police officers attacking the black man with truncheons inside his music studio and yelling racist epithets at him.

Several police officers in France were suspended on Thursday after a video emerged showing the cops brutally beating a Black man in Paris. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin personally ordered the suspension of the officers after video footage of the incident was published by local news website Loopsider.

Darmanin has also said that an investigation will be launched into the incident to find out what led the officers to assault the man, who looked harmless and didn't seem to pose any threat in the video. The victim has been identified by his lawyer as Michel Zecler, who is a music producer by profession.

Police Brutality

France election
Police patrol at the Trocadero near the Eiffel Tower after a policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting incident in Paris, France, April 21, 2017 Reuters

The music producer, Zecler, was walking in Paris without wearing a face mask, French media reported, when he spotted a police car. In an attempt to avoid getting fined for not wearing a mask, he ducked into his music studio. According to the video footage captured by the surveillance camera and another video taken by neighbors, which were published on Loopsider, three officers followed Zecler into the studio where they attacked him with truncheons and punched him repeatedly, yelling racist epithets at him.

However, the officers didn't stop there. They allegedly returned with back up and threw a tear gas canister in the studio, before holding Zexler for 48 hours in custody.

Loopsider later published an interview with an unnamed man with facial injuries which it claimed was Zecler. "At that moment, I'm scared, I'm telling myself maybe today is my last day, here's what I thought to myself, it's my last day and I don't know why," he said in the video.

Zecler's lawyer, Hafida El Ali, later said that nine others who were recording music in the studio basement were also beaten.

Authorities Take Action

Darmanin took to Twitter on Thursday to announce that he had asked the head of the police force to provisionally suspend the members of the police force involved till the investigation into the incident is complete.

"These images are unspeakable, extremely shocking and as soon as I learned about them, and about what happened, I asked for the suspension of those police officers," Darmanin said in a televised address Thursday night.

The incident comes amid protests against growing police brutality in France. The video of Zecler being beaten by police has emerged just days after another video of police violence shocked the French public. That video was filmed on Monday during an operation to dismantle a migrant camp in central Paris.

Also, a separate investigation into the brutal assault of Zecler has been launched by the Paris prosecutor's office. The prosecutor's office said on Thursday that it has dismissed the charges against Zecler that were slapped on him on the day of his arrest. Instead they have started an investigation for "acts of violence by a person in position of public authority" and "false declaration."

The video of the latest incident of police brutality has also drawn widespread criticism on social media, with top footballers such as Kylian Mbappé joining his French national teammates and other athletes in calling for an end to racism.