Theo is a 22-year-old black man who was brutally attacked and allegedly raped with a police baton on February 2 when officers visited the district of Aulnay-Sous-Bois to check ID documents. The young Frenchman described the attack as brutal police rape.
— Aashik KC (@KcAashik) February 12, 2017
BBC News reported that Theo has given graphic testimony of the alleged rape by a police officer in a north-western suburb of Paris.
On February 6, a day after a French police officer was charged with Theo’s rape and three other officers were charged with “deliberate violence in a group,” a protest was held in northern Paris in Aulnay-Sous-Bois demanding justice for Theo. Hundreds of people marched in support of Theo, with 24 arrests being made and many cars set alight.
Describing the abuse, Theo said he left his house and suddenly found himself in the middle of a police identity check where police were targeting drug dealers. Disturbing details of the assault include Theo being sodomized with a truncheon, including being racially abused, spat upon, and beaten around his genitals.
The young man has undergone emergency surgery for severe anal injuries, and it was in hospital where he spoke to his lawyer. Theo explained that he was set on by four police officers, which very quickly turned violent. When asked why they were treating him this way, one officer pulled Theo’s trousers down and raped him with his truncheon. He was then hit over the head, then sprayed with tear gas around his head and in his mouth.
“I fell on to my stomach, I had no strength left.”
When he arrived at the police station he was attended to by another police officer who saw his condition and sent him to the hospital. The officers were then suspended by Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux, who said the facts of the case would be established “with no ambiguity.” A lawyer defending the officer facing the rape charge said the injury was accidental and that at no time had the policeman wished to cause any injury to the victim.
— ezimedia (@ezimdia) February 7, 2017
There was much unrest in the neighborhood on the weekend and on Monday, with reports that arson attempts were made on two restaurants, cars were set on fire, rubbish bins were burned, and 24 arrests were made.
Abdallah Benjana is a former deputy mayor who lives in the neighborhood, and he spoke To Associated Press News Agency.
“What are [the police officers] seeking? To provoke a spark? Isn’t there enough gunpowder in those neighborhoods? Unemployment, insecurity, high rents… no perspectives for future. They do that to a young man, it can only explode.”
France 24 reported that demonstrators held placards reading “police kill innocents” and “police rapes” as they protested outside the Bobigny courthouse.
Reporters at the scene confirmed that the rally was mostly peaceful, however several vehicles were set alight and some protesters threw projectiles at police, resulting in the police responding with tear gas. Officials said that, earlier in the day, four people were arrested in the city of Marseille while protesting against police violence. Protests also took place in the French cities of Toulouse and Orléans.
On Thursday, it was confirmed by police sources that their own investigation into the incident concluded that the injuries received by Theo were not intentionally inflicted. Theo was so badly injured that he remains in hospital and will be away from work for 60 days.
— Report UK (@ReportUK) February 13, 2017
This newest report of police brutality has revived past controversies between police and immigrant communities in rundown suburbs of France, where police officers are often accused of brutality and discrimination.
NBC News reports that Bobigny is home to a large immigrant community, and the allegedly unprovoked attack on a young black man has angered crowds. Businesses were damaged and vehicles were set alight after a peaceful demonstration turned violent.
A statement from the Paris police prefecture stated that the peaceful protest turned violent.
“Several vehicles, including a media truck, were set on fire and police officers had to intervene to rescue a young child trapped in a burning vehicle.”
Part of the attack on Theo, and his arrest, were captured on video, and it’s the victim’s statement that one of the police officers sodomized him with a police baton. His alleged abuse has prompted a week of demonstrations in the impoverished district, so, in an effort to ease tensions, French President, François Holland, visited the victim in his hospital bed on Thursday.
With the police investigation deciding that the alleged rape was unintentional, it seems the anger over this incident is here to stay for a while. Protesters believe it’s unacceptable for the police to say that this assault was an accident. Even though a video of the arrest was posted on social media, it could not be verified by NBC News.
News Channel France 24 was told by a police source what the video showed, that it showed a policeman “applying a truncheon blow horizontally across the buttocks with a truncheon” and Theo’s clothes “slipped down on their own.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that, by the time Theo arrived at the emergency room on February 2, he was covered in blood.
Doctors determined that Theo’s main injury was caused by a police truncheon being forced inside his rectum. The damage occurred during a violent encounter with four police officers in a northern suburb of Paris. Major surgery was required to repair the damage, and the victim maintains that the injury was inflicted intentionally, and that he was the victim of a horrific sexual assault.
— CNN World (@CNNWorld) February 12, 2017
One week later and protesters are still angry, particularly when French investigators say they have reached an entirely different conclusion. According to them, the violent sodomy was an accident and occurred when the officer’s expandable baton happened to slip into the victim’s anus. According to the French edition of the Huffington Post, the police do admit that it was a very serious encounter but say that the incident was “not a rape” because of the “unintentional character” of the penetration.
Fortunately, and despite these conclusions, the French Interior Minister has announced that one officer will face charges of aggravated rape, while the other three officers will be charged with aggravated assault. While denying these charges, all men have been suspended from the police force.
According to the French news station BFMTV, Theo and his family are asking the community to act peacefully.
“I would like to ask the residents of my neighborhood to calm down. I ask them to stop the hostilities because I love my city and I want to find it the way I left it. Violence is not the way to support me. Justice will do its job.”
[Featured Image by JPL Designs/Shutterstock]