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Watch Macron’s security aide attack a protester. The French government has now come under fire.

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PARIS — The footage is striking.

In the same scenic Paris square that the writer Ernest Hemingway once called home, a protest erupted during France’s annual May Day holiday. This part, at least, is no surprise: May 1 is International Workers’ Day, typically marked by massive labor demonstrations that can bring the city to a standstill. That was especially the case this year, in the midst of President Emmanuel Macron’s sweeping market reforms.

But what was a surprise is the degree of violence exhibited by one man, in particular — and who, exactly, this man turned out to be.

Video footage first published by France’s Le Monde newspaper depicts none other than one of Macron’s security aides, Alexandre Benalla, dragging a woman by the neck away from a protest scene, where national police officers were already teargassing a small group. After a beat, Benalla appears back on camera, this time to attack a young man the police had already dragged a fair amount.

The root of the scandal is this: Benalla is not a police officer; he was only dressed like one, wearing the type of visor they wear. According to Le Monde, he had taken a day off and had requested to “observe” police operations during the May Day protests. As the video shows, police did not intervene to stop Benalla.

Interviewed Thursday on French television, police officials could not explain why. “An observer doesn’t act like that,” said Philippe Capon, a spokesman for a large police union, speaking on BFM-TV.

But the context, Capon said, could have presented Benalla with an opportunity to abuse his position. “He was an observer from the Elysee,” Capon said. “When police officials hear the word ‘Elysee,’ there is a particular apprehension.”

The fact that Benalla was given a two-week suspension as a punishment immediately drew the ire of political opposition leaders, as well as allegations of a coverup. On Thursday, Macron stayed unusually silent on what French media have already christened “the Benalla Affair” when reporters questioned him during a visit to the Dordogne in central France.

Bruno Roger-Petit, a spokesman for the Elysee Palace, told French media Thursday that Benalla’s punishment was the “most serious” ever given to a presidential aide.

But public outcry multiplied once France’s BFM TV network reported Thursday that Benalla had participated in security services at the Pantheon burial of Holocaust survivor and noted feminist Simone Veil, as well as in the security operation surrounding the French national football team’s victory parade — earlier this week.

Prominent members of Macron’s government struggled to explain the situation, especially when pressed on the question of a potential legal double standard that had applied to an administration official.

Amid the outcry Thursday, the French public prosecutor opened an inquiry into the Benalla case, an investigation that could ultimately lead to charges against him, as well as further embarrassment to the Elysee Palace.

Macron’s critics seized the opportunity to do precisely that, mostly to decry the persona of a president often called “Jupiterian,” out of touch or “the president of the rich.” Earlier in the summer, Macron came under fire for publicly scolding a sardonic high school student who addressed him by a nickname.

“When you are at the Elysee, you have to set an example,” said Laurent Wauquiez, the hard-line leader of Les Républicains, France’s mainstream conservative party, speaking Thursday on France’s Europe 1 radio. Wauquiez, whose stances often mimic those of the far-right National Front, has sought to challenge centrist but pro-business Macron from the right.

“Today, one has the feeling that at the Elysee, they think they are above the law,” Wauquiez said.

 

This article was written by James McAuley from The Washington Post

Crime

ATLANTA POLICE OFFICER SHOOTS A MAN DEAD AT A FAST-FOOD DRIVE-THRU

An Atlanta police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy’s drive-thru Friday night.

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 (CNN) — An Atlanta police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy’s drive-thru Friday night after he resisted arrest and struggled for an officer’s Taser, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

The GBI identified the slain man as Rayshard Brooks, 27, of Atlanta.

The killing comes amid global protests and discussion of police use of force following the death of George Floyd last month in custody in Minneapolis. Atlanta has seen frequent protests, including some that turned violent.

Six Atlanta Police Department officers were facing charges of using excessive force during one, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced June 2. Two of the officers were fired by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Friday, officers responded to a call at 10:33 p.m. about a man sleeping in a parked vehicle in the drive-thru, causing other customers to drive around it, the GBI said in a statement.

Police gave Brooks a field sobriety test, which he failed, the GBI said. He resisted arrest and struggled with officers, the GBI said.

An officer drew his Taser and, witnesses said, the man grabbed it, the statement said. An officer then shot him.

Brooks was taken to a hospital, where he died, the statement said.

One officer was treated for an injury and released, the GBI said.

The GBI is investigating at the request of the APD, the statement said. Once completed, the case will be turned over to prosecutors for review.

CNN has reached out to the APD, GBI and the mayor’s office but they have not responded.

CNN affiliate WSB reports this is the 48th police shooting the GBI has investigated in 2020

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Crime

Bo Dukes Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Covering Up Death of Tara Grinstead

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ABBEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A man convicted of helping hide the death of a missing Georgia teacher has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

News outlets reported that 34-year-old Bo Dukes was sentenced Friday morning in court in Abbeville.

Dukes was convicted Thursday night of lying to investigators about the 2005 death of Tara Grinstead. The high school history teacher’s body was burned to ash and bone fragments in a pecan orchard.

What happened to the woman wasn’t revealed until Dukes and another man were arrested in 2017.

Dukes was convicted of two counts of making a false statement, hindering the arrest of a criminal and concealing a death.

His co-defendant, Ryan Alexander Duke, is charged with murder in Grinstead’s death and is scheduled for trial April 1 in Irwin County.

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Crime

US Supreme Court Agrees To Decide Whether Lee Boyd Malvo Gets A New Sentence

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March 18 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a gunman in the 2002 Beltway Sniper case should receive a new sentence because he was a teenager at the time.

The random shootings terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in September and October 2002 and killed 10 people. Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad were ultimately captured and convicted of the sniper killings. Muhammad was executed in 2009 and Malvo is serving six consecutive life sentences. At the time of the shootings, Malvo was 17.

The Supreme Court issued a writ of certiorari Monday to hear the appeal next term.

At issue is a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that said juveniles cannot be given mandatory life-without-parole sentences unless they committed murder or were determined permanently incorrigible.

A Virginia court last year vacated Malvo’s sentences and asked a trial court to rule on whether his crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility or “the transient nature of youth.”

Malvo is now 34 years old.

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel called the Beltway shootings “the most heinous, random acts of premeditated violence conceivable, destroying lives and families and terrorizing the entire Washington D.C., metropolitan area for over six weeks, instilling mortal fear daily in the citizens of that community.”

The judges said, “Malvo was 17 years old when he committed the murders, and he now has the retroactive benefit of new constitutional rules that treat juveniles differently for sentencing.”

Malvo faces life without parole in Maryland, where he killed six people. That sentence was upheld in 2017 and is pending at the state Supreme Court. Muhammad, who was 25 years older than Malvo, smuggled him into the country illegally from Antigua.

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