French authorities on Friday detained four police officers suspected of beating and racially abusing a Black music producer in Paris in a case that President Emmanuel Macron said “shames us”.
Video carried by the Loopsider website shows how music producer Michel Zecler was repeatedly beaten by officers for several minutes and subjected to racial abuse as he tried to enter his music studio last weekend.
The president spoke of images “which shame us”, according to a statement released on social media.
“France must never allow hate or racism to spread,” Macron said.
A presidential official said earlier Friday that Macron was “very shocked” by the images which have sparked fresh accusations of systemic racism in the French police force.
‘Hit him so hard’
“They called me ‘dirty n****r’ several times to my face while they punched me,” Zecler told reporters outside police headquarters, where he lodged a formal complaint.
In one of the videos on Loopsider a neighbour who filmed the scene from above said a plain-clothes policeman punched a kneeling Zecler in the face “maybe seven times”.
The policeman “hit him so hard that his hand hurt”, the witness said.
The incident has raised questions about the future of Paris police chief Didier Lallement, already in the spotlight after the controversial forced removal of a migrant camp in Paris earlier in the week.
It also put the government on the back foot as it tries to push through new security legislation that would restrict the right of the media to publish the faces of police officers.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who is in charge of the police forces, told French television that the officers had tarnished the reputation of France’s security forces.
The four officers, all men, were detained for questioning on Friday, a source close to the case told the AFP news agency.