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4 Officers in France Are Charged Over Beating of a Black Man

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PARIS — 4 law enforcement officials have been charged over the beating of a Black music producer in Paris this month, the authorities in France mentioned on Monday, in a case that has shocked the nation and compelled the federal government to reckon with persistent accusations of police brutality and racism.

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Graphic video posted on social media confirmed three officers pummeling the music producer, Michel Zecler, 41, with fists, ft and a baton on Nov. 21 within the entrance to a recording studio within the seventeenth arrondissement of Paris, whereas one other threw a tear-gas canister by means of the window. Mr. Zecler mentioned that a number of officers had additionally used a racial slur towards him.

The footage, which was taken from a safety digicam and obtained by Loopsider, a French digital news outlet, was at odds with the officers’ account of the occasions, and outrage in France was swift.

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The authorities shortly suspended the officers and opened an investigation. President Emmanuel Macron mentioned in an announcement on his Facebook page on Friday that the pictures of the beating “convey disgrace upon us,” whilst his authorities comes below rising stress over a safety invoice that will limit sharing photos of law enforcement officials.

The 4 officers have been positioned below formal investigation late Sunday and charged with assault, together with using a weapon, a French judicial official mentioned on Monday. Some have been additionally charged with using racial insults, the official mentioned.

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The official, who was not licensed to talk publicly a couple of persevering with investigation, mentioned that the three officers accused of beating Mr. Zecler had additionally been charged with forgery of official paperwork — over suspicions that the officers had lied of their police report in regards to the occasions — whereas the officer accused of throwing the tear-gas canister had additionally been charged with damaging personal property.

The authorities haven’t publicly recognized the officers past their ages: 44, 35, 31 and 23. Two of them have been detained, whereas the others, together with the one accused of throwing the tear-gas canister, have been launched below judicial management.

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Credit score…Michel Zecler/Gs Group, through Agence France-Presse — Getty Pictures

Rémy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor, mentioned in a information convention on Sunday night that the officers initially mentioned that that they had been making an attempt to cease Mr. Zecler as a result of he was not carrying a masks, which is obligatory in France due to the coronavirus pandemic, and since he was emanating a “robust odor of hashish.” The officers additionally mentioned that Mr. Zecler had tried to keep away from them by coming into the studio, that he had dragged the officers in with him and that he had been violent.

Mr. Heitz mentioned that the police later discovered barely 0.5 grams of hashish — lower than 0.02 ounces — in Mr. Zecler’s bag and that the safety digicam footage confirmed that the officers had adopted Mr. Zecler inside earlier than beating him, whereas Mr. Zecler didn’t seem violent towards the officers.

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Mr. Heitz mentioned that the officers had admitted below questioning that their blows towards Mr. Zecler “weren’t justified” however that that they had informed investigators that that they had been appearing “below the affect of worry” as a result of that they had been unable to convey a struggling Mr. Zecler below management within the cramped entrance to the recording studio.

Footage filmed by a neighbor and published last week by Loopsider confirmed, nevertheless, that one officer continued to hit Mr. Zecler on the road whilst he was surrounded by a couple of dozen different officers. A number of younger artists who have been attending a recording session on the studio have been additionally hit by the police, in response to the video.

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Mr. Heitz additionally mentioned that the officers, who haven’t been concerned in earlier incidents, denied utilizing a racial slur.

The beating has fueled longstanding frustration that the French authorities is doing little to deal with accusations of police violence, especially against ethnic minorities. Mr. Macron mentioned in his assertion on Fb final week that he had requested the federal government to provide you with proposals to revive the general public’s confidence within the police — a requirement he has already made twice this 12 months, first in January when a deliveryman died after police officers pinned him to the ground and put him in a chokehold, then once more in June amid the global fallout over George Floyd’s killing.

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However the beating has additionally struck a nerve amid more moderen discontent over Mr. Macron’s security policies, which critics say infringe on civil liberties and protect the police from scrutiny.

Tens of hundreds of individuals protested around France over the weekend towards a safety invoice that will limit sharing photos of law enforcement officials. The invoice was handed by the decrease home of Parliament and nonetheless must be thought-about by the Senate, however the authorities is already dealing with mounting calls for from civil rights teams, journalist unions and left-wing opposition events for the revision or removing of key provisions.

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That stress has escalated since Mr. Zecler’s beating, despite the fact that it’s not clear that the invoice — which might criminalize the broadcasting of “the face or some other figuring out ingredient” of on-duty law enforcement officials if the objective is to “bodily or mentally hurt” them — would have utilized within the case.

Frédéric Veaux, the top of the French nationwide police, mentioned in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday that he had been “scandalized, like the remainder of the police on this nation” by the assault, evaluating the officers who beat Mr. Zecler to “criminals” and promising that the police can be geared up with 15,000 new physique cameras by subsequent summer time.

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However Mr. Veaux denied that the connection between the police and the French inhabitants was “broken.”

“The police is a mirrored image of society, is it not on the margins,” he mentioned, including that there had been a “disinhibition” of the violence towards safety forces over the previous few years, particularly after the Yellow Vest protests.

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Whereas the demonstrations on Saturday towards the safety invoice have been largely peaceable, they have been marred by violent clashes between the police and demonstrators later within the day.

An impartial photographer from Syria, Ameer al-Halbi, was badly damage when he was hit within the face by a police officer wielding a baton, which the top of Reporters With out Borders called “unacceptable.” Gérald Darmanin, the French inside minister, mentioned practically 100 safety forces had additionally been wounded, together with one police officer in riot gear who was violently beaten by demonstrators in Paris.

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