Persilschein for the French police

The death of Steve Maia Caniço has become a symbol of police violence throughout France. The 24-year-old educator visited a Festival for Fans of electronic music at the Loire in Nantes at the end of June. The police forcibly dissolved the celebration.

On Videos you can see how police beat with sticks on people. According to a Investigation Report, 33 tear gas and noise grenades as well as 10 rubber bullets were fired at the young, celebrating people. In the following panic, 14 people crashed into the Loire. 13 were saved. Just not Steve Maia Caniço. His dead body was found about five weeks later.

Transparency comes to the Farce

On 3 August, almost 2000 people demonstrated at the police headquarters in Nantes. In many other cities, for example in Paris, Montpellier, Toulouse and Perpignan, hundreds of people, including supporters of the movement of the “yellow West”, imagined the young man and demanded an end to police violence in France.

The death of Steve Maia Caniço is not an isolated case. The French police repeatedly criticised the excessive use of force. Again and again, French politicians promise to work out what is happening transparently. And again and again, the persons responsible for their investigations meet with systematic resistance. The death of Steve Maia Caniço. After an internal investigation of the National Police Inspectorate (IGPN), the authority concluded in a 276-page report that there was “no connection” between the death of the 24-year-old and the use of the police forces.

A personal certificate for the French forces. Many French people are wondering if this is the “transparency” that Prime Ministers Édouard Philippe and interior minister Christophe Castaner promised to deal with the case.

Danger was known

The French media comment on the IGPN investigation report, in comments some journalists spoke out what many in France think: the police and their hard work are responsible for the death of Steve Maia Caniço.

The French online portal “mediapart” refers to “sources close to the internal investigation” and speaks of facts that had been ignored by the investigators. For example, the IGPN had not considered it necessary to question a commander of the Republican security companies (CRS), who arrived with his unit only a few minutes after the massive use of tear gas grenades by the police, locally. And this, although this commander had explicitly forbidden his unit to use tear gas. “To avoid a panic and possible falls in the neighboring river,” is stated in the corresponding report of the CRS commander.

Because the persons responsible and the emergency forces were informed about the danger of falling of the persons present in the event of a panic outbreak. The danger has already been addressed in a police report dated 22 June 2017. A report which was then also forwarded to the police prefecture and to the Central Directorate for Public Security. In 2017, two young people fell into the Loire at exactly the same place. Due to the danger to those present, the forces decided at that time to withdraw.

In the recent incident, the CRS recalled this incident and waived tear gas grenades. Not the police.

Questionable Powers

French media, however, also criticise the responsibilities of the IGPN investigations. These were transferred to a commander and thus to a Person who ranks lower than Commissioner Gregoire Chassaing, who is responsible for the questionable police operation in Nantes. The second head of Investigation is Thierry Palermo, deputy head of Department for public safety (DDSP) of Loire-Atlantique. The accusation: in Order to ensure a truly independent investigation, should have been appointed a higher-ranking officer, inspector or inspector-General. Someone not from the Region, but from Paris, for example.

“No one was forced to jump "

Although the IGPN did not even consider it necessary to question the present CRS commander, who considered the use of tear gas grenades to be dangerous, she questioned in her report that it was the police action that could have led the young people to panic in the Loire. So in the report, “none of the rescue workers rescued persons had declared that they had been forced by the police to jump into the water.”

According to “mediapart”, several people who fell into the water during the night in question disagree with this statement. For example, 24-year-old Jeremy, who clearly blames the tear gas for his eight-Meter-deep fall into the Loire. “I couldn’t see anything, I tried to swim, I didn’t get away from the stain. I grabbed a rope by the side, I didn’t see the others fall, but I could hear them.”

In contrast, the IGPN mentions only one witness who reported on the evening of the events via the platform of the inspection authority to complain about the tear gas throws of the police, which caused falls and injuries.

The massive use of weapons

A policeman, who anonymously commented on the IGPN investigation results for “mediapart”, pointed out that the use of 33 tear gas grenades and noise grenades as well as 10 rubber bullets within 20 minutes was a” massive and unusual use". The police had “saturated” the room, which naturally raise questions.

Various Videos, which were mainly distributed by the left-liberal French daily “Libération”, prove in particular the massive use of tear gas grenades. On some Videos you can see and hear young people asking the police to stop. They also draw the attention of the emergency forces to the danger of falling.

“Control of men lost”

The IGPN notes in its report that, in view of the chaotic situation, Grégoire Chassaing, the commissioner responsible for local Intervention, had lost control of his men. He said that Chassaing’s superior, Thierry Palermo, had ordered five minutes after the first shots to stop the intervention with tear gas. An order that had not been complied with.

According to information provided by" mediapart", the same Palermo also stated that he was unable to assess the strategy and functioning of committed police officers. And this, although he is directly involved in the investigation of incidents and it is one of his duties as deputy head of Public Security to lead police units.

Administrative and judicial investigation

No administrative measures have been taken against Grégoire Chassaing and Thierry Palermo so far. Even the French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, however, does not seem to be satisfied with the Persilschein issued by the IGPN to the police. He has asked for an administrative investigation in which the responsibility of the local police authorities is also to be examined. The members of Steve Maia Caniço hope, meanwhile, to bring light into the dark with a initiated investigation for “negligent killing”.

Also, because this failed the internal investigation of the national inspection authority of the police. On the contrary, she raised new questions.