Four French officers are facing criminal charges for beating a Black music producer while using a racial slur in Paris earlier this month.
Michel Zecler, a 41-year-old music producer, was beaten by the officers at his Paris music studio on Nov. 21. It’s unclear what exactly led to the incident, but officers said in a police report that “a strong smell of cannabis” was coming from Zecler, who was also not wearing a mask, which violates France’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The beating was captured by a security camera, and the footage sparked outrage after it was published by Loopsider on Thursday.
The four officers have been charged with intentional violence and forgery for falsifying statements in reports documenting the incident. Two of the officers have been granted conditional release.
Zecler, who suffered injuries to his head, legs, and forearms and required stitches, told The Associated Press, “I want to understand why I have been assaulted by people who were wearing a police uniform. I want justice actually, because I believe in the justice of my country.”
Footage of the incident shows the officers following Zecler inside his music studio before beating him for three minutes. Zecler said the officers used a racial slur during the beating. He said he asked the officers if they wanted to confirm his identity, but that the punching continued. At one point a tear gas canister was also thrown into the building.
Zecler, who said he does not know why he was arrested, was taken into police custody. The prosecutor’s office said it had dropped proceedings against him.
Zecler’s attorney, Hafida El Ali, said the nine other people who were inside the studio were also beaten.
Paris police said in a statement that the Inspectorate General of the National Police is investigating the incident.
The outrage sparked by the video of the beating came as the lower house of the French government backed Article 24, which would make it a criminal offense to publish images of on-duty police officers with the intent to harm their “physical or psychological integrity.”
But on Monday, the speaker of parliament said the law would be “completely rewritten.”
“The images we have all seen of Michel Zecler’s assault are unacceptable,” wrote French President Emmanual Macron, in a statement on Facebook. “They shame us. France must never resolve to violence or brutality, wherever they come from.
“I ask the Government to quickly make proposals to me to reaffirm the bond of trust that must naturally exist between the French and those who protect them and to fight more effectively against all forms of discrimination.”