In the video, Alexandre Benalla, an assistant to Macron’s chief of staff, first appears to pull a woman away from the scene of a May 1 protest at the Place de la Contrescarpe in Paris. He is wearing a police helmet.
A short time later, the man identified as Benalla is seen grabbing a young man around the neck, repeatedly hitting him and even stomping on his stomach.
The video, originally posted to social media by 21-year-old Taha Bouhafs on the day of the protest, drew renewed attention on Thursday when French publication Le Monde identified the aggressor. Benalla was the head of security during Macron’s 2017 election campaign and later arranged security for the president.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said he has opened an investigation and accused Benalla and another man, reserve police officer Vincent Crase, of acting inappropriately.
“These two people had no legal right to intervene,” Collomb said, according to the BBC.
Macron ignored journalists’ questions about the incident on Thursday, Al Jazeera reported.
“This video is shocking. Today, we have the feeling that in Macron’s entourage one is above the law,” Laurent Wauquiez, president of the conservative Republicains party, told Europe 1 radio.
The video-taker, Bouhafs, said on French radio, “The man on the ground was harmless and begged Benalla to stop. There is no explanation for this outburst of violence.”