Police officers in Paris were suspended this week after they were recorded punching a Black man and beating him using a truncheon without apparent cause, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
According to the news agency, three officers were suspended immediately after footage emerged of the attack. The victim has been identified as an artist named Michel.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin ordered the officers suspended, the AP reported.
The attack reportedly took place on Saturday, shortly after officers followed the man into his music studio, where officers beat the man using a truncheon and punched him, according to the AP, which reviewed video images and security footage.
Not long after the beating, the police reportedly exited the studio and were met with backup. They then reportedly launched tear gas into the studio, prompting other artists who had been recording music to leave.
Hafida El Ali, a lawyer representing Michel, told the AP that they were “beaten up” once they went outside and were “thrown to the ground and that’s the moment when a police officer sees they are being filmed.” It wasn’t until after that, El Ali told the outlet, the officers stopped attacking them.
Michel, who was reportedly later placed in custody, said he doesn’t know why he was attacked.
“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,” he said.
El Ali told the AP: “He asked them what they wanted, if they wanted to check his identity. … They didn’t stop beating him, the video of the violence [inside the studio] lasts for 12 minutes.”
The officers reportedly claimed Michel was behaving dangerously.
El Ali pushed back on officers’ claims about her client, saying he “never committed any violence against the police. … He did not even defend himself.”
News of the suspensions comes amid a push for legislation in France that would place restrictions on how police can be recorded.
El Ali told the AP “these videos are essential because initially my client was being detained … for violence against people with public authority.”
“This is very serious. The reality is that if we didn’t have these videos maybe my client would be in prison,” she added.