The video, widely distributed on social media, shows police in riot gear beating protesters with batons as one officer walks right up to the group with a riot gun, after which a marcher is seen tumbling to the ground.
In the video, several protesters are left sprawling on the ground in the aftermath of the police advance on the protest in Paris.
?? [FLASH] – Une vidéo filmée à #Paris, aujourd’hui, montre qu’un policier a tiré à bout portant sur un manifestant contre la réforme des #retraites (à 12s).
Une nouvelle violence policière. #greve9janvier #manifestation#GiletsJaunes#GreveGenerale
? (@laurentbigotfr) pic.twitter.com/0KEFYWvLui
— La Plume Libre (@LPLdirect) January 9, 2020
The Paris prosecutor’s office said an investigation had been opened into violence committed by a person holding public authority.
The probe has been entrusted to the IGPN, the police oversight body. In a statement to AFP, Paris police described the video “fragmentary and out of context.”
“The police and gendarmes were attacked by violent people and retaliated with… tear gas and defensive bullet launchers,” it said.
The defensive bullet launchers are anti-riot guns used by French police, known as LBDs in France. They fire non-lethal 40-millimetre rubber balls.
In a tweet on Friday, the police department said its officers were confronted Thursday by “hostile and threatening groups” and targeted by projectiles thrown at them.
Twenty-seven people were arrested, the police said, adding 16 of its members were hurt in the confrontations. There has been no complaint from any protester hit by a rubber bullet, said the police.
The LBD gun has been blamed for several protesters losing an eye during weekly, anti-government “yellow vest” protests which started more than a year ago and have often turned violent.
The IGPN is investigating 212 cases of alleged police brutality during yellow vest protests.
Social media has become an important tool for protesters seeking to spread awareness of police misconduct, with several videos showing alleged violent incidents from across the country.
— Mélie Courtois (@MelieCourtois) January 10, 2020