Didier Léon, aged 65, was driving back from visiting his daughter in hospital, who had just given birth, when a plain clothes police officer pulled alongside him on a scooter and ordered him to pull over for committing a traffic offence.
Minutes later the routine stop descended into violence, with video footage, taken by a witness from a window overlooking the street, showing the officer repeatedly raining blows on the pensioner through his car window.
Léon does not dispute he had committed a traffic offence but claims he did not believe the man who had stopped him was a police officer. He says he could not see the undercover policeman’s red armband, which later ended up on the ground.
When the policeman leaned in through the window to take the car keys out of the ignition, Léon admits he grabbed the officer by the throat.
That appears to be the trigger for the policeman's violent retaliation. The video shows witnesses gathering around the car, one of whom tells the officer “You don’t have the right to beat him up like that.”
French police have launched an investigation into the incident after which Léon was signed off work for six days.
Léon’s lawyer Eric Plouvier, denounced a "manifestly disproportionate response to the confusion of a citizen" who did not deserve a “thrashing”.