Yesterday, the Paris Prosecutor’s Office requested the indictment of the four policemen involved in the violent arrest in Paris of a black music producer and requested the provisional arrest of three of them. The images of police aggression have shocked French public opinion and rekindled the debate on police violence in France.
The Paris prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, asked that the three policemen considered alleged perpetrators of the attack on producer Michel Zecler be charged with voluntary violence by persons deposited with public authority, racist statements, false testimony in a public document, violation of a domicile and voluntary degradation of private property.
The fourth policeman, suspected of throwing a tear grenade inside Michel Zecler’s recording studio during the controversial arrest, the Paris prosecutor has asked that he be charged with voluntary violence and degradation of property and that he be subjected to judicial control.
The investigation is now in the hands of the investigating judge, who will be the one to decide whether to finally accuse the four policemen, as the prosecution has requested. “In this case, justice has the firm determination to clarify the matter, in the respect of the principles that govern it,” said the prosecutor Rémy Heitz.
The events occurred on November 21 in Paris. Seeing the police on the street, producer Michel Zecler decided to enter his recording studio to avoid being fined for not wearing a mask in full confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic.
From there the versions of the policemen and the producer vary. The police claimed that Michel had been aggressive, resisted arrest and tried to take their weapons from the officers. The images from the video surveillance cameras show that Zecler was, in fact, the victim of a police attack for no apparent reason.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that the images of Michel Zecler’s police attack are “unacceptable” and “make us ashamed.”
This police aggression took place in the midst of controversy in France over the Global Security bill, which wants to limit the dissemination of images of policemen and gendarmes. His detractors fear that he encourages police impunity.
Some 133,000 people, according to the Interior Ministry, protested across France on Saturday against the Global Security law and against police violence. The demonstrations were generally peaceful, although during the Parisian protest there were riots and clashes between the police and the more radical protesters.
Broadcast videos of the Parisian protest show the police charging at the protesters, but also officers cornered and attacked by radicals. The AFP agency asked the police to investigate the police assault of one of its collaborators, Syrian photographer Ameer al Halbi, who was hit in the face with a truncheon when he was covering the Parisian demonstration.