Police officer filmed beating young man with baton in Saint-Josse

Police officer filmed beating young man with baton in Saint-Josse
Credit: Screengrab/Twitter

A video posted to social media the day after the World Cup semi-final between France and Morocco shows a police officer beating a young man to the ground with a baton in the Brussels municipality of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. An investigation has been launched.

In the footage, which circulated widely on social networks, a police officer can be seen running after two young men before beating one of them with a baton. The young man collapses and the video cuts off before resuming when the officer has turned his back on the collapsed man before appearing to leave the scene.

The young man in question, only identified as 'Y.', did not wish to speak to La Dernière Heure, but his older sister told the newspaper that he escaped with a fracture in one of the bones of his right hand, a contusion on his left knee and a wound on the scalp.

"The police officer told him not to go to the hospital, because if he found him there, my brother would see what the officer would do to him," Y.'s sister said. "When the police left, they just left him there. Some neighbours brought him back." She added that her little brother is not the type to cause harm, while another family member described Y. as a "quiet and shy boy."

Police presence in the streets of Brussels during the Morocco vs France game. Credit: Belga / James Arthur Gekiere

While the video posted on social media does not provide the full context of the evening, those close to Y. say that he was at home at the time of the match and had gone out for a walk before turning back when he saw people using firecrackers, just seconds before his encounter with the police.

His sister added that the police officer suspected of hitting her brother is well-known among the young people in the neighbourhood. "His presence is a civil threat. All the young people know him, they say he always hits. And because he said he would recognise my brother, my brother does not dare to go out anymore and does not want to testify either."

On Monday, the mayor of Saint-Josse, Emir Kir, visited the family of the young man. "After I was alerted to the video I directly called the police chief of staff, Olivier Slosse, and an internal investigation was launched," he told La Dernière Heure.

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In the meantime, the Brussels Public Prosecutor's Office has also launched a judicial investigation. However, neither the prosecutor nor the Brussels North police zone will comment on the case as long as the investigation is ongoing, not even to confirm or deny that the police officer in question is still on duty for now.

"What is important is to show that everyone is treated the same and that the family deserves the truth," said Kir, whose municipality has been dealing with heavily strained relations between young people and the police in recent months. According to Y.'s sister, these incidents "breed hatred" in the neighbourhood, adding that "in X amount of time, it is going to lead to civil war."

Kir, however, stressed that the police college regularly takes disciplinary measures. "A dismissal is possible if it is necessary, we have done it before. I understand the reaction of the young people but one should not jump to conclusions."

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