French police watchdog to investigate alleged beating of black man

The alleged victim said that he was jumped upon by police at his music studio in Paris on Nov 21. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - French authorities are investigating allegations that a black music producer was physically attacked and racially abused during a police check in Paris after CCTV footage of the beating was released.

The incident was captured on closed circuit television and mobile phone footage which was circulating online and was headline news on French television channels.

In an interview with France 2 television, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the officers 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," Darmanin said.

Earlier, he said on Twitter that France's IGPN police watchdog is investigating the allegations.

The alleged victim, who only gave his identity as Michel, told reporters on Thursday (Nov 26) that he was jumped upon by police at his music studio in Paris' 17th arrondissement on Nov 21.

He said 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 the studio and started to physically attack and racially abuse him, he said.

"I was lucky enough, unlike many other people, to have had the video that protects me," Michel told reporters.

Hafida El-Ali, the lawyer representing Michel, added that her client would be making a formal complaint against the police over the incident. Video footage of the alleged attack was first obtained by the LoopSider news organisation.

In the video, which has no sound, Michel is seen struggling with the three police officers - two in uniform, one in civilian clothes - in the cramped entrance of his building for several minutes.

He told reporters on Thursday that he struggled with the men because he was not sure they were police.

Two of France's top soccer players, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, spoke out against police violence on their Twitter feeds.

"Unbearable video, inadmissible violence," Mbappe tweeted.

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.

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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