A French police officer kicked and stamped on the head of a British man who allegedly lunged at police with a knife after being told to wear a mask on a train.

Video of the arrest shows the armed officer, who isn't wearing a face mask, pointing his handgun at the 42-year-old man and then placing his foot on the back of the Brit's head.

The policeman is then seen stamping on the Englishman's head - leaving him in a pool of blood - while passengers look on from a train carriage and a woman shrieks in horror.

The officer uses his foot to pin down the Englishman's head for about two minutes while a second officer, who is wearing a mask, sits on the man's back and handcuffs him.

In the video, one passenger is heard saying during the incident: "It's like the United States."

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A police officer uses his foot to pin down the British man's head, while another officer sits on his back

Two witnesses have since claimed the Brit didn't lunge at police with a knife.

The incident happened at a train station in Orleans, about 60 miles south of Paris, when the man was on a train heading from the capital to Toulouse on Tuesday afternoon, French media reported.

It is alleged the man was drunk, didn't have a ticket and was refusing to wear a face mask on the train, resulting in police being called to Fleury-les-Aubrais station by SNCF railway staff.

It is said he refused to comply and was dragged onto the platform, where he allegedly lunged at police with a Swiss Army knife.

However, witnesses claim police were immediately aggressive towards the man, who they say wasn't violent on the train and didn't lunge at the officers with a knife.

The officer who is standing was seen stamping on the Brit's head

They said an officer pulled out his gun, pointed it at the man and ordered him to drop the blade, which he did.

A video that has gone viral on Twitter doesn't show the confrontation on the train or the alleged incident with the knife.

The footage, recorded by a woman on the train, shows the shoeless man getting down on his stomach on the platform as an officer, who isn't wearing a mask, points his gun at him.

As the man lay face down, a second officer kneels on his back and begins to handcuff him.

The officer with the gun places his foot on the back of the man's head or neck.

Hit foot moves and he then stamps on the man's head as passengers' shrieks and shouting are heard on the train. Witnesses said the man suffered facial injuries and lay in a pool of his own blood.

The policeman steps on the Brit's head again and holds it down for almost two minutes as the other officer handcuffs the man, who is wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Officers from the IGPN, France's national police force, were called to speak to the man and check his identity because he didn't have a ticket and refused to wear a face mask, it is alleged.

Witnesses have disputed claims that the Brit tried to stab an officer

The Brit is accused of being abusive towards police on the train and refusing to comply and put on a face covering.

The force claims the Brit was dragged onto the platform, where he pulled out a Swiss Army knife and tried to stab one of the officers in the abdomen.

A spokesman for the Alliance union, which represents national police officers, said the officers had no choice but to drag the man off the carriage.

The union backs the officers "200%" and considers the man's alleged attempt to stab a policeman as "attempted murder". It claims the Brit was intoxicated.

The spokesman told France 3: "They did what was necessary to remove him from the train."

A witness named Clemence told France 3 that the Englishman had removed his shoes and placed them on a hiking bag, and was attempting to sleep.

He said SNCF staff came through the carriage and the man, who wasn't wearing a mask, was not in possession of a ticket.

A witness named Pierre said police arrived and one of the officers already appeared "very agitated" while dealing with the British man, who did not speak French.

The British man was taken to hospital and released into police custody

He added: "There was already animosity on (the officer's) part. You could tell he was already p****d off."

Witnesses said the officers asked the man why he wasn't wearing a mask, and he told them that he had difficulty breathing with one on.

It is alleged that one of the officers pointed to his armoured vest and said: "What does this say? It says 'Police'. It doesn't say 'Social worker'. I don't give a damn about your problems."

Clemence claims the officer used "inappropriate" language and said: "You're in France, you're not in your country, so move on and do what you're told."

Witnesses say the Brit resisted arrest by clinging onto his seat and begged "let me take my bag", but he was not violent towards the officers on the train.

Pierre, the fellow passenger, said the Brit suffered an arm wound on the train. But police sources claimed to France 3 that the man injured himself while attempting to stab an officer.

Pierre said the man was dragged onto the platform, adding: "He had a knife in his hand. The knife was pointed downwards. At no time did I see it being pointed at a policeman or passenger."

Witnesses said one of the officers then pulled out his gun, pointed it at the Brit and ordered him to drop the knife, which he did before getting down on the floor at gunpoint.

The officers provided first aid to the injured man after handcuffing him.

He was taken to hospital and then into police custody when he was discharged.

The public prosecutor said the Brit was arrested on suspicion of "willful violence against a person holding public authority".

The IGPN has launched an investigation into the incident.