Police in the city of Toulouse came under fire after several officers were caught on tape discussing plans to “shoot” the protesters involved in clashes.
The comments were made in the police command room, as broadcaster France 3 reported, where the officers were watching an intense standoff between police and the demonstrators unfolding on the streets of Toulouse.
While the officers aren’t seen in the video, the voices are heard saying “What a bunch of bastards!” and “The f***ers!”, when the clashes turned violent.
Then a female officer is heard saying, “But you have to shoot!” and the other male officer replying, “When I tell you to, line up two or three rounds.”
@VIGI_MI contre toute attente, plus de 10000 personnes dans les rues de Toulouse. Place du capitole , des collègues épuisés essuient les charges des manifestants. Surpris, émus et estomaqués, des policiers de la salle de commandement appellent à « tirer des bastos ». 1/2
The video was recorded during the Yellow Vests protest on January 12, but was only released recently when the French police labor union Vigi posted it on Twitter. The union distanced themselves from the comments in the footage saying “the words of the policemen have exceeded their thoughts”.
Twitter users have also slammed police officers for their words.
Meanwhile, the Haute-Garonne prefecture released a statement where they called the protests unfolding on the police screens a “scene of rare violence,” which provoked the police officers’ “spontaneous comments.” It has opened an investigation into the “illegal capture of images and sound” in the Police Command and Information Center.
The leaked video comes in the wake of criticism of the French police’s tactics during the Yellow Vests protests, which have been rocking French cities since November. The police used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters, resulting in some serious injuries.
One of the leaders of the Yellow Vests movement, Jerome Rodrigues, was left blind in one eye after being hit by a rubber-ball projectile. Officials estimate around 2000 protesters have been injured since protests began on November 17.