L’Île-Saint-Denis : analysis of the complete audio recording
“A wog like that can’t swim”: in 2022, six police officers were convicted of racist insults and violence during the arrest of Samir E., a 28-year-old Egyptian national, in Île-Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis). Five of them appealed the judgment and their trial opens today. On this occasion, INDEX provides an analysis of the audio and video recordings of this arrest – published for the first time in their entirety – where we can clearly hear the insults and bursts of laughter from the police, as well as the cries of the arrested.
Date of incident
L’île-Saint-Denis (93), France
Update: our analysis has now been submitted to the hearing of the Paris Court of Appeal which takes place on 13-14 September 2023.
On the night of 25 to 26 April 2020, in L’Île-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Samir E., 28, jumps into the Seine to try to escape the police. He is suspected of theft from a construction site; the case will later be dismissed.
Around 1:45 a.m., when he comes out of the water, he is immediately arrested by a group of police officers. Not far from there, a resident of the neighbourhood is alerted by the screams he heard. At 1:56 a.m., he sets a sound recorder on which he places on the low wall of the courtyard of his home, in front of which several police vehicles were parked. This witness will also film the scene from his window, without being noticed by the officers in operation.
First published on Twitter by journalist Taha Bouhafs in the form of a 2min20 video montage, these recordings triggered a political and media outcry – particularly for the racist insults that they distinctly captured. Since their publication, Samir E. has filed a complaint against the police for the beating he says he received upon his arrest, as well as on the way to the police station. In January 2022, the Bobigny court sentenced six police officers to sentences ranging from six to twelve months, including a six months effective prison sentence for some. The audio and video recordings of the witness of the scene – on which we hear the insults, but also some muffled noises, the cries of Samir E., and the bursts of laughter of the police officers, played a major role in this court decision.
Right after the sentences were pronounced, five of the six convicted police officers announced their intention to appeal the judgment. They contest the acts of violence for which they were convicted, and deny having hit Samir E. The screams that we hear on the recordings would allegedly be due to a panic attack on the part of the arrested person.
On the occasion of the opening of the appeal trial of this emblematic case of police violence – which will be held at the Paris Court of Appeal on September 13 and 14, 2023 – INDEX publishes for the first time the entire audio recordings and video of the witness to the scene. Presented in the form of an analysis in video format, this includes a transcription of all the words which are distinctly audible in the audio recording, once it has been optimised by reducing ambient noise.
The analysis also includes a 3D reconstruction of the conditions in which Samir E. was loaded into the police van, established from the interviews of the police officers and the complainant himself. Handcuffed with his hands behind his back, his hood pulled down over his head by the police, Samir E. was placed – or thrown, according to his testimony – on the floor of the van, on its left side. Up to six police officers entered the van with him ; three of them, according to their version, held him on the ground. If the witness’s video does not allow us to see what happened inside the van, the audio recording allows us to hear a series of muffled noises, the cries and complaints of Samir E., at the same time as the insults addressed to him by the police and their numerous bursts of laughter.