This incident, which involved police officers using tear gas on a homeless man, occurred in Le Bourget, in the northern suburbs of Paris, around 4am on Friday July 15th.
A video of the event, which has circulated widely across social media, shows a police vehicle drive past a man carrying several bags, who appears to be homeless.
The vehicle backs up and then the police spray the man from the window of their patrol car, enveloping the man in a cloud of tear gas. The car then drives away, as the man grabs his face in pain, then falls to the ground.
Puisqu'on vous dit que la @PoliceNationale est irréprochable et républicaine 🤢 j'attends avec hate la réaction de @alliancepolice @GDarmanin @Elisabeth_Borne mais aussi les médias comme @CNEWS @BFMTV @LCI ainsi @Interieur_Gouv @Renaissance_UE
Police partout justice nul part ! pic.twitter.com/2gQiNmJVX4
— Manuel φ (@Readleader1970) July 15, 2022
Many are already criticising the actions of these police officers, including the area’s MP, Raquel Garrido, who posted an open letter to the Paris police chief.
In the letter, shown below, Garrido calls the actions ‘intolerable’ especially considering “the attitude of this gentleman was obviously not threatening.”
Je m’adresse au Préfet Lallement à propos d’un comportement policier inacceptable rapporté par les habitants du Bourget (cf vidéo qui circule). Un bourgetin apparemment inoffensif a été aspergé de gaz lacrymogène depuis un véhicule de police. Pourquoi ? pic.twitter.com/xmVifLGPwm
— Raquel Garrido (@RaquelGarridoFr) July 15, 2022
According to several community members, the man in the video is indeed homeless and well-known to locals. The town’s mayor, Jean-Baptiste Borsali, told French daily Le Parisien that he is ‘not a bad guy’ and was simply taking out his trash at the time.
Borsali added that he too learned of the incident as a result of the video circulating online and that the police had not yet informed him, but that it was “too early to pass judgement.”
The Paris Police prefecture has promised to investigate the event, saying it would be passed on to the General Inspectorate of the National Police, and that the officers, “once identified, will be subject to suspension.”
Police use of tear gas on football fans at the Champions League final was widely condemned, along with the organisation of the event which saw thousands of fans unable to access the ground in time for kick-off. The French Senate has been holding an enquiry into the chaotic scenes at the match.