'France’s public prosecutor has opened a preliminary inquiry after one of Emmanuel Macron’s top security officers was filmed hitting and stamping on a young man at the edge of a Paris demonstration while illegally dressed as a police officer.
Prosecutors are investigating possible charges of violence by a public official as well as pretending to be a police officer and illegally using police insignia.
The video, first published by Le Monde, is potentially damaging for the French president because the security official, Alexandre Benalla, was a senior member of security staff at the Élysée Palace.
Benalla, who previously worked as a bodyguard and has never been employed as a police officer, had asked for permission to use a day off to “observe police operations” during .
The video shows Benalla in a Paris square where riot police were teargassing and moving on young people. Benalla, wearing a police visor, is seen first grabbing and dragging a woman, then dragging, hitting and stamping on an unarmed young man who seems to be in pain. The many riot police close by appear to let Benalla carry out the violence.
? Vidéo du collaborateur de #Macron frappant un manifestant le 1er mai à Paris. Identifié par @lemondefr il s'agirait d'Alexandre Benalla.#AlexandreBenalla
Plus d'infos : https://t.co/EsqRMrih2j pic.twitter.com/hesXye0bzb
— Fallait Pas Supprimer ? (@FallaitPasSuppr) July 18, 2018
One witness who saw the incident said: “What I watched was not normal, it was extraordinary, it was not legal and it was not techniques used by the police. It’s unacceptable, I’m extremely angry and I want to see action by the justice system, police and administration against this member of staff of the presidency.”'
Read more: Top Macron security official in police visor filmed beating protester