Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

French president Emmanuel Macron and Alexandre Benalla (right), who is in charge of security for Macron’s engagements, and who was filmed assaulting a protester while dressed in riot gear. (Reuters)
Updated 19 July 2018
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Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

PARIS: A video showing one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s security chiefs beating a student demonstrator, until now cloaked in secrecy, is drawing a fierce public backlash over what is seen as mild punishment and a possible cover-up.
The video of the May 1 event in Paris, revealed by Le Monde on Wednesday evening, shows Alexandre Benalla in a helmet with police markings, and surrounded by riot police, brutally dragging off a woman from a demonstration and then repeatedly beating a young man on the ground. The man is heard begging him to stop. Another man in civilian clothing pulled the young man to the ground.
Police, who had hauled the man from the crowd before Benalla took over, didn’t intervene. Benalla then left the scene. The second man was apparently a gendarme who Le Monde said had worked with Benalla in the past.
The uproar over Benalla’s punishment — a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities — forced top French officials to address the issue Thursday. But Macron has remained silent. Benalla, who hasn’t commented on the matter, handled Macron’s security during the presidential campaign.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, responding to questions in the Senate, called the event “shocking,” but stumbled to respond to questions, notably whether all French are equal before the law.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that the two men “obviously had no legitimate (reason) to intervene.” He said he has demanded that a police unit which investigates suspected criminal behavior by officers explain the rules for observers and verify whether they were respected.
Condemning the “unacceptable behavior,” Macron spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said that Benalla was also removed from his responsibilities of organizing security for presidential trips — though he maintains his office at the Elysee Palace.
In addition, authorities launched a preliminary investigation that could lead to charges against Benalla, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing case.
Despite this, Benalla has been seen this month on the ground with police at several high-profile events, including the return home Monday of France’s champion World Cup team, an event attended by hundreds of thousands.
Macron, in the Dordogne region to officially launch a new postage stamp, didn’t respond to questions about the scandal. The upstart centrist elected last year had promised an exemplary presidency during his term to break with unending cases of corruption in French politics.
Roger-Petit said the punishment dealt out to Benalla was the “most serious” ever given to a top aide at the presidential Elysee Palace and served as a “last warning before dismissal.”
Opposition politicians expressed shock, with some denouncing a climate of impunity at the top of the French political hierarchy and asking Macron to personally address the issue.
The head of France’s main conservative party The Republicans, Laurent Wauquiez, asked on Europe 1 radio if the government was trying to “hush the affair.”
Roger-Petit stressed that Benalla had requested authorization to use his day off “to observe” security forces’ operations on May Day when marches are traditionally held. It was granted.
It was unclear why the young man under attack, who wasn’t detained, was singled out by police before Benalla intervened.
“An observer doesn’t act like that,” said the spokesman for the UNSA-Police union. They are typically equipped and briefed in advance, and the framework is “completely clear,” Philippe Capon told BFM-TV.
He couldn’t say why police didn’t stop Benalla.
The context was “special,” he said. “He was an observer from the Elysee. When police officials hear the word ‘Elysee’ there is a particular apprehension.”


Police papers say Toronto shooter ‘emotionally disturbed’

The attack ended after Hussain exchanged fire with two officers and then was found dead nearby (The Canadian Press/AP)
Updated 31 min 8 sec ago
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Police papers say Toronto shooter ‘emotionally disturbed’

  • Faisal Hussain was described as a loner
  • Police documents say Hussain fatally shot himself after the July 22 rampage

TORONTO: The man who went on a shooting rampage that killed two people and wounded 13 in Toronto was an emotionally disturbed loner and did not appear to act out of any particular ideological motivation, according to police documents released Thursday.
The redacted documents also say Faisal Hussain fatally shot himself after the July 22 rampage.
The documents were written by officers in support of obtaining search warrants. They also indicate Hussain had been arrested for shoplifting two days before the shooting but was released.
The papers say Hussain had three dealings with police as an “emotionally distressed person” in 2010.
Hussain’s twin brother told investigators his sibling once robbed a store with a gun and had called police to say he wanted to kill himself.
“For the last couple years, Faisal has had no real friends,” the brother is quoted as saying. “He started attending the mosque with his father but did not seem that interested in religion.”
The mass shooting in Toronto’s Greektown neighborhood stunned people in the normally safe city, which was already unsettled by an attack just three months earlier when a man used a van to plow over pedestrians on a downtown sidewalk, killing 10 and injuring 14 while apparently aiming at women.
According to one detective cited in the documents, Hussain’s cellphone was ringing repeatedly when his body was found. An officer answered the phone to discover it was Hussain’s parents frantically trying to reach him, the documents say. The officer advised them to go to a police station.
Police used a dog trained to detect explosives when they searched Hussain’s home. What the dog found is partially redacted in the documents, but a white powdery substance — possibly cocaine — was found in a drawer.
The papers also describe several witness statements, including one man who said Hussain walked casually and was smiling as he fired his lethal rounds. The attack ended after Hussain exchanged fire with two officers and then was found dead nearby.
A day after the shooting, Hussain’s parents issued a statement outlining their son’s battle with depression and psychosis. They also decried Hussain’s “senseless violence,” described his actions as “horrific,” and offered condolences to families of his victims.
But the documents say that in an interview with police, Hussain’s father said his son had no mental health issues.
Hussain’s mother told police she had never seen her son with a gun, the documents say, but she described him as a loner who never had a girlfriend.
On the night of the shooting, she “told her son that he should get married and find a nice wife,” the documents state. “He left the house that evening to go for a walk around 8:30 p.m. never to return.”
His mother said Hussain didn’t use drugs, had shown no major changes in behavior and never talked about guns or appeared angry, the documents say.
His father described taking him on a trip to Pakistan a few years ago.
“Faisal was happy on the trip and did not want to return because people left him alone there,” the documents quote the father as saying.
The father told an officer that he had forced Hussain to attend mosque “as he does not go willingly.” He said his son didn’t smile much and stayed in his room playing video games.
Hussain was working two part-time jobs at the time he died, the documents say.