LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Live video of a police officer beating a soccer fan in front of the man’s two young sons has sparked outrage in Portugal and led to an investigation of alleged abuse of power by police.
The incident started when police approached Jose Magalhaes, his sons and his father Sunday outside Guimaraes stadium in northern Portugal, where Benfica had just won the Portuguese league title, according to video and witness reports.
Magalhaes said Monday that police had allowed him and his sons to leave the stadium before other fans because the children were being crushed.
Video footage shows the family by a low wall, where one child sat and drank a bottle of water. There were few other people in the vicinity because police were holding rival fans inside the stadium to avoid clashes in surrounding streets.
An officer questioned Magalhaes, then punched his father before using a truncheon to beat Magalhaes while his 9-year-old screamed “Dad! Dad!”
Another policeman in riot gear with a shield kept the child away and tried to pick him up as he cried.
The images were captured by a camera operator for Portugal’s Correio da Manha TV and broadcast live before making the rounds on social media, where they prompted criticism of police.
Magalhaes spoke to reporters Monday outside a court in Guimaraes where he appeared. It was not clear if he will face charges.
He said the policeman asked him why he had taken his children to a soccer game where he knew there could be trouble.
He said he replied that the police should be more concerned about people getting crushed inside the stadium, at which point the policeman assaulted him.
Magalhaes said the policeman alleged in evidence presented to the court that Magalhaes spat at him, a claim Magalhaes denied. Magalhaes said the police had been kind to him and his family by allowing them to leave the stadium early.
Benfica said it would invite Magalhaes and his sons to watch the final game of the season at its stadium in Lisbon next weekend, and the two children will go onto the field for the presentation of the league trophy.
Meanwhile, the club has criticized some of its fans who pelted police with bottles and stones during celebrations in Lisbon on Sunday night. Riot police moved in to clear downtown streets after midnight as violence erupted.
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