France protests: Engineer loses one of his testicles after being hit by a cop, shocking video surfaces

French law enforcement agencies have long been peppered with excessive use of force complaints.

PTIUpdated: Monday, January 23, 2023, 03:15 PM IST
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A video of the incident circulated on social media and French television over the weekend. | Screengrab

Doctors amputated the testicle of a young man who got clubbed in the groin by a police officer during a huge Paris demonstration and who plans to file a lawsuit, daily French newspaper Liberation quoted him as saying in an article published Sunday.

The incident occurred during a spurt of violence at a mostly peaceful march Thursday by tens of thousands of people opposed to a hotly contested government pension reform plan. About 1 million people marched in cities around France that day.

Police hits baton on man's groin

The 26-year-old, identified in the French press as an engineer, said he was knocked to the ground, allegedly by an officer, while taking photos during a confrontation between some demonstrators and police. Another officer charged at him and quickly planted his club in the man's groin.

Video of the incident circulated on social media and French television over the weekend.

Paris Police Chief Laurent Nunez ordered an inquiry into the exact circumstances of the incident as outrage grew over what appeared to be a new case of alleged gratuitous violence by French police, a longstanding complaint.

Liberation identified the injured man as Ivan S. and said he told the newspaper he was suing "so that this stops, because I'm not the first person to be subjected to violence by police." Lucie Simon, a lawyer representing him, said a lawsuit for "voluntary violence by a person in authority leading to mutilation" already was in progress, French media quoted her as saying.

French government spokesman Olivier Veran said in an interview Sunday on French all-news station BFM TV that he was neither part of the police or judicial establishments, but "my thoughts are obviously with this person."

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Excessive use of force

French law enforcement agencies have long been peppered with excessive use of force complaints. Police unions contend their members often are the victims of violence committed by some people they are meant to protect.

The 2020 beating and clubbing by three police officers of a Black music producer, Michel Zecler, as he left his Paris studio was a catalyst for limited reforms. The most recent change was the appointment last year of a magistrate to head a unit that investigates allegations of police abuse. Police officers previously led the unit.

French President Emmanuel Macron ordered changes in 2021, saying that "we have nothing to fear from greater transparency." That same year, French lawmakers passed a "global security" law reinforcing certain law enforcement powers. The most controversial article, which initially limited video or other images of security officers, was watered down to make it a crime to identify security officers "with the manifest goal of attacking their physical or psychological integrity."

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