A top security guard protecting the French president has been fired by Emmanuel Macron's office after a backlash spurred by video of the bodyguard beating up a student protester.
The presidential Elysee Palace said Friday that Macron’s office has “decided to Alexandre Benalla’s dismissal procedure” – actions that follow a day of fierce criticism after the security aide was identified as the man wearing a police helmet and beating a young protester on May Day.
The palace said “new facts” had emerged in the case, forcing Macron’s office to act.
French police also detained Benalla on Friday and are questioning him for his actions. A judicial officials said he is being questioned on an array of counts ahead of potential charges including violence committed in a group by a person with a public service mission.
A video of the May 1 event in Paris shows Benalla, in a helmet with police markings and surrounded by riot police, brutally dragging away a woman from a demonstration before repeatedly beating a young man to the ground. The man is heard begging him to stop.
Police, who had pulled the man from the crowd before Benalla took over, didn’t intervene. Benalla then left the scene.
French newspaper Le Monde was the first to identify Benalla as the attacked.
On Thursday, the presidential palace said that Benalla had been authorized to follow police operations as an observer on his day off. Macron’s spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit described Benalla’s actions as “unacceptable behavior” and said he was suspended for two weeks and given a desk job.
However, Benalla maintained his office at the presidential palace.
Macron’s apparent inaction in the case and keeping Benalla on the job two-and-a-half months after the May incident sparked widespread criticism.
An official at the presidential palace confirmed press reports that the process of firing Benalla from his job had begun and that Macron's office had new elements in hand justifying the decision, notably Benalla's possession of a document from police headquarters that he wasn't authorized to have, procured in an effort to prove his innocence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.