Yellow vest militant 'blinded for life' by French police 'rubber bullet'


A lawyer for Jérôme Rodrigues, a high-profile militant with the 'yellow vest' protest movement who was struck in the right eye when police fired weapons at demonstrators during disturbances in central Paris on Saturday, said his client has been left permanently disabled by a police rubber bullet, in the latest case of dozens of life-changing injuries recorded among demonstrators in recent weeks.  

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A 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) demonstrator injured in the eye at a demonstration in Paris will be disabled for life according to his lawyer, reports The Guardian.

Jérôme Rodrigues, a high-profile member of the protest movement, claims he was struck by a “flash-ball”, a launcher used by French riot police to fire large rubber pellets. They have been blamed for dozens of injuries, some serious, including the loss of an eye.

Investigators are looking into the incident after police reportedly insisted Rodrigues’s injuries were caused by a crowd-control grenade that exploded near him, a version of events his lawyer “categorically” denied.

Rodrigues was injured at Place de la Bastille on Saturday afternoon, during an 11th weekend of demonstrations by the gilets jaunes in Paris. Witnesses said the police used flash-balls, “sting-ball” crowd dispersal grenades and tear gas while protesters calling for the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to resign threw projectiles at them

There have been calls for French police to be banned from using the flash-ball launchers, and last week the interior minister, Christophe Castaner, ordered officers carrying them to wear body cameras.

Witnesses were reported to have picked up the projectile that struck Rodrigues and handed it to investigators. Internal police investigators have launched an inquiry, as has the Paris prosecutor. More than 80 similar inquiries have been launched following serious injuries or legal complaints during gilets jaunes protests.

Rodrigues’s lawyer, Philippe de Veulle, told BFM television: “He will be disabled for life. It’s a tragedy for him and his family.” De Veulle said he was lodging a complaint against police for “voluntary violence by a person of public authority” because Rodrigues was allegedly struck with one of the 40mm hard rubber projectiles.

On Sunday, Rodrigues, conscious and speaking to LCI television from hospital, said he was also hit by a sting-ball grenade, another controversial riot control tool used to disperse crowds.

“Everything happened very quickly. They threw a grenade at me and I took a [rubber] bullet. I was attacked twice – a grenade to the foot and the bullet,” he said. He accused police of carrying out “all the violence the rules permit”.

“I’m going to take legal action against Mr Macron, Mr Castaner and against the police officer who shot at me … I remain firmly pacifist whatever happens.”

Read more of this report from The Guardian.



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