Doctors had to amputate the testicle of a young man who was punched in the groin by a police officer during protests in Paris last week, according to the man’s lawyer.
Footage and footage of Thursday’s protests circulating online show a police officer punching a man to the ground between the legs and then walking away. The man is seen holding a camera.
The incident came amid a wave of violence in a mostly peaceful march attended by tens of thousands of people opposed to the government’s plan to raise the retirement age. Around 1 million people marched in towns across France on Thursday.
The 26-year-old, identified in the French press as an engineer, said he was thrown to the ground, allegedly by an officer, while taking photos during a clash between protesters and police. Another officer charged at him and allegedly drove his club into the man’s groin.
Lawyer Lucie Simon said she was filing a complaint on behalf of her client for “willful violence resulting in mutilation by a person vested with public authority”.
“It was such a strong blow that he had to have his testicle amputated,” she said, adding that the engineer was still in hospital.
“It’s not a case of self-defense or necessity. The proof is in the footage we have and the fact that he was not arrested then.
The engineer, who lives on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, “is still in shock and keeps asking why” he was injured, the lawyer added.
Paris police chief Laurent Nunez ordered an investigation into the exact circumstances of the incident as outrage grew over what appeared to be a case of excessive force by French police, a complaint for a long time.
The man told the Liberation newspaper that he was continuing “to make it stop, because I am not the first to suffer police violence”.
Government spokesman Olivier Veran told a local broadcaster he had “empathy” for the young man.
But he stressed “the need to understand the conditions in which this intervention occurred”.
The Interior Ministry said 80,000 people marched in Paris on Thursday, part of nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to extend the retirement age from 62 to 64.
The far-left CGT union, however, said it had counted 400,000 protesters in the French capital.
French law enforcement has long been littered with complaints of excessive use of force. Police unions claim that their members are often victims of violence committed by certain people they are supposed to protect.
The 2020 beating and bludgeoning by three police officers of a black music producer, Michel Zecler, as he left his Paris studio was a catalyst for limited reforms. The most recent change was the appointment last year of a magistrate to head a unit that investigates allegations of police abuse. Police officers previously led the unit.
French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered changes in 2021, saying “we have nothing to fear from greater transparency”.
That same year, the French legislator adopted a “global security” law strengthening certain powers of the police. The most controversial article, which initially limited video or other images of security guards, was watered down to criminalize the identification of security guards “with the manifest aim of causing bodily harm or psychological.
Agence France-Presse and Associated Press contributed to this article