Investigation after Paris police officer apparently hurled paving stone at protesters

French prosecutors and police inspectors have opened an investigation after an officer was apparently seen hurling a paving stone at protesters during May Day demonstrations in Paris, sources said Friday.

Investigation after Paris police officer apparently hurled paving stone at protesters
May 1st was a tense day in Paris with several stand-offs between police and protesters. Photo: AFP

The incident – captured in video footage posted on social media this week – occurred as riot police clashed with violent protesters during the march on Wednesday.

The officer, surrounded by fellow riot police, appears on the footage to be throwing the stone several meters towards the demonstrators.


The general inspectors' office of the national police (IGPN) has now opened an investigation at the request of French police chief Didier Lallement, police sources told AFP.

Prosecutors have also opened a judicial investigation, legal sources said.

“If someone is at fault, there will be a sanction, legal and administrative sanctions,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told journalists during a visit to Toulon in southern France.

The traditional May Day rallies for workers' rights were joined this year by “yellow vest” protesters who have staged weekly Saturday protests since November to demand tax cuts and improved living standards.

Some protesters set fire to bins, furniture and several cars. Photo: AFP

But those protests have often degenerated into rioting and violent clashes with police, in particular by anti-capitalist “black bloc” youths, dozens of whom also took part in Wednesday's protest.

For months, yellow vests have accused the police of heavy-handed repression of their right to assemble and protest, in particular the use of rubber bullet launchers that have seriously injured dozens.

Tensions ran high throughout Wednesday afternoon, with dozens of protesters at one point pouring on to the grounds of a hospital and later trying to enter an intensive-care unit.

Officials quickly condemned what Castaner initially described as an “attack” on the hospital, although cellphone footage by nurses released on Thursday suggested they were only seeking refuge. 

Castaner acknowledged on Friday that “I shouldn't have used the word 'attack',” saying the incident was more of a “violent intrusion.”

“I have no problem recognising that I misspoke,” he said.

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What happened to the rioters who trashed the Arc de Triomphe during yellow vest violence?

A court in France has finally handed out sentences to some of those involved in the vandalism and theft at the Arc de Triomphe in December 2018 - when 'yellow vest' violence in Paris shocked the world.

What happened to the rioters who trashed the Arc de Triomphe during yellow vest violence?
'Yellow vest' protesters clash with police by the Arc de Triomphe on December 1st 2018 in Paris. Photo: Abdulmonam EASSA / AFP

The French court on Thursday sentenced eight people to suspended jail terms and community service for taking part in one of the most violent episodes of the anti-government ‘yellow vest’ protests that rocked France two years ago.

A total of nine stood trial this week for the incident, but one of them, a former soldier, was cleared for lack of evidence, presiding judge Sonia Lumbroso said at the verdict.

The court ruled the suspects were neither the instigators nor the main culprits of the vandalism and looting around the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris, when scenes of destruction and fierce clashes with police made global headlines.

Most of them had no criminal records.

They were sentenced to 70 hours of community service for entering the monument, but those also found guilty of stealing items such as postcards, Arc de Triomphe models or miniature Eiffel Towers from the gift shop, were fined €100 for theft.

A ‘yellow vest’ protester arrives at the courthouse in Paris to attend the trial of ten people on charge of destruction and theft around the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris. Photo: Thomas COEX / AFP

One of the group, a man who was caught on camera trying to break down a door with a fire extinguisher, was handed the most severe sentence, a suspended prison term of eight months.

Dozens of cars were set on fire and businesses trashed all along the celebrated Champs-Elysées avenue on December 1st, 2018, the third Saturday of mass demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

READ ALSO: Macron risks losing support from left against Le Pen in French presidential election

He was accused of ignoring the plight of struggling French families and after months of protests he abandoned a planned fuel tax hike and raised spending on the lowest earners.

The protesters had already skirmished with security forces at earlier rallies, but police were unprepared for the rioting that engulfed the capital just a few weeks before Christmas.

Despite firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets, the officers were forced to abandon their positions around the Arc de Triomphe, which honours France’s war dead.

Protesters snuffed out the eternal flame over the tomb of an unknown World War I soldier and spray-painted the stone walls with graffiti including “the yellow vests will triumph”.

Others forced their way inside the arch, ransacking the gift shop and damaging scores of artworks, causing damage that cost €1.2 million to repair.

READ ALSO: Is France’s ‘yellow vest’ movement really on its way back?