WASHINGTON — A video shot by a passerby appears to show the security detail of the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in town this week for the Africa Leaders Summit, beating a peaceful protester.
The man who shot the video, Noah Landay, said he saw the incident just outside the Capella Hotel on Wednesday, and witnessed the brutal scene that went down before he had a chance to start filming.
Near the start of the video, a man is seen kicking another man laying on the sidewalk.
It remains unclear what exactly the protesters were speaking out against, what group they represented, or what started the incident.
In the video, Secret Service officers appear to be on the scene. A spokesman for the Secret Service, Edwin Donovan, said he had no further information on the incident at the time of BuzzFeed’s request for comment. The following is based on what can be seen in the video and what BuzzFeed was told by Landay.
Landay said the incident started when “two or three” protesters were yelling at DRC President Joseph Kabila. Kabila continued into the hotel with a few guards but several others stayed outside to to yell back at the protesters, Landay said. They weren’t speaking English, so Landay could not understand what was being said.
At one point, Landay said five to seven guards went across the street and began ripping the signs out of the protesters hands. While the others were able to run off, the man in camouflage was knocked to the ground where the guards “started to punch him in torso and head,” Landay said.
“The whole thing lasted about 10 seconds before secret service intervened,” he said.
Landay then said his friend, a medical student who can be seen in the video wearing tan shorts and a light blue shirt, offered to check on the man while ambulances arrived. Landay said his friend told him he was missing several teeth.
A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service told Time that the investigation has been turned over to the State Department.
“We are still gathering details on the incident, but are very troubled by reports that protestors were attacked by members of the President’s entourage,” the State Department said in a statement. “We take the right to freedom of expression very seriously, and violence against peaceful protestors is totally unacceptable.”
The statement further said that if a waiver of immunity is not granted so the investigation can be conducted, the delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo will be asked to leave the country.