Probe launched after Brussels cop seen kneeling on teen's neck

Probe launched after Brussels cop seen kneeling on teen's neck
Shocked bystanders stated the teenager was not resisting and appeared to be arrested for no clear reason. Credit: Jonathan del Valle

The Brussels-Ixelles police zone has launched an investigation into an arrest in Brussels which "shocked" passers-by who saw a cop kneeling on a teenager's neck.

Olivier Slosse, a spokesperson for the Brussels-Ixelles police zone, told The Brussels Times that the incident would be examined.

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"We will verify the circumstances [surrounding the arrest]," he said, declining to comment further on the ongoing investigation.

Witnesses to an arrest in Brussels on Sunday said they were "shocked" to see a police officer in riot gear kneeling on the neck of an unidentified youth who was pinned to the ground and who they said was not resisting.

One witness at the scene said the kneeling officer was using the same technique used by the US policeman charged with killing George Floyd, a Black man who suffocated to death as the policeman knelt on his neck.

Bystanders to the arrest said they didn't understand the reason for the youth's arrest and that it was unclear whether he was with others who were facing off with the police.

Slosse, who confirmed the officers belong to a special unit with the Brussels-Ixelles police zone, said that the arrests took place in the context of the riots and looting that ensued after a massive Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest against police brutality.

The police zone is conducting at least two other investigations into accusations of police brutality after protest, one concerning a 19-year-old.

The police's press services could not immediately provide information on the teen's identity or the reasons for his arrest.

Following the rioting and looting on Sunday, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said that he had immediately ordered police to carry out hundreds of arrests, and a police union said over 20 officers had been injured in the clashes.

Close, who was criticised for allowing the massive BLM demonstration to go forward, also said that he would support looted shops and expected justice to "severely punish" the rioters.

Close's spokesperson and cabinet did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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