PARIS – French police officers said they were “mentally exhausted” after being videotaped threatening arrested protesters, according to an internal report released Friday.

Members of a Paris motorbike police unit are being investigated for making derogatory comments while detaining adolescents during rallies against a disputed pension reform late on March 20.

Members of the Motorized Brigades for the Repression of Violent Action (BRAV-M) blamed weariness in a report to their superiors obtained by AFP on Friday.
Yann C., one of them, claimed he and his crew had been on patrol since 10 a.m. when the tape was made at 11 p.m.


Another protester, Benoit A., described “shifts of 14 hours, even 16 hours” against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

“Eating and drinking were complicated,” he said, adding that some officers used “medication” since they didn’t have time to use the restroom.
“We were mentally and physically exhausted,” he said.

Members of the police unit can be heard picking on a 23-year-old Chadian student who has accused them of slapping him in the recording, which was shared by French media on March 24.

The officers make sexually explicit, sexist, and racist remarks, and one officer warns a demonstrator that the next time they will have to use “a thing called an ambulance to go to hospital.”

Victor L. said in the internal report that he targeted the Chadian student not because of his skin color, but because of “his arrogance and provocations.”

Benoit A. claims that insulting the foreigner for “crying like a girl” was a “clumsy” remark.
Pierre L. denied slapping him, saying he just “pushed him back via the face.”
However, the audio includes what appears to be a smack and him adding, “Would you like another one to set your jaw straight?”

Yanis A. claimed he was merely trying to “let off steam” when he questioned the Chadian if he arrived in France “hanging off a plane wing.”

Theo R., who threatened him with a deportation order, claimed he was only trying to “inform him of judicial risks.”

Lawyer Arie Alimi, who is representing the Chadian student and another female protester, claimed the policemen’s reasoning did not convince him.

“Fatigue cannot absolve someone of criminal responsibility,” he stated.
However, “given the intensity of the operations he ordered,” he noted, “it could invoke the criminal responsibility of the police chief himself.”

The words “extremely shocked” Paris Police Chief Laurent Nunez.
The officers shown on video have been relieved of duty but not suspended, according to Paris police.

The investigations are still ongoing.
At least two more BRAV-M officers are being probed for suspected brutality, according to a person close to the matter who asked not to be identified.

Rights groups have accused French police of using excessive force in the pension protests since January, which have become increasingly violent after the government rammed the retirement measure through parliament without a vote last month.

However, the interior ministry says that it was responding to “far-left” radicals intent on causing damage to public property.

Activists and left-wing MPs have called for the dissolution of the BRAV-M, but Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin rejected the request this week.



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