Policeman killed by a motorist in Le Mans: what happened?

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“Respect and honor.» These are the words written on the card pinned to a white rose, hanging on the gates of the Paixhans police station in Le Mans (Sarthe). A tribute to the 43-year-old brigadier, who died during a traffic check in the south of the town. The tragedy of that night comes just over a month after the death of gendarme Mélanie Lemée on July 4 in Lot-et-Garonne. The 25-year-old gendarme had been hit at more than 130 km / h by a driver without a license who was carrying 165 grams of white powder, “Probably cocaine”, had subsequently indicated the prosecutor of Agen. With the death last night of this sergeant installed for two years in Le Mans, this is the third death on a mission that the police have deplored since the beginning of the year.

It is around 3:40 a.m. on the night of Wednesday to Thursday when a crew of three agents from the Le Mans emergency police unit intervenes as reinforcements after a call from the firefighters. Their goal was to provide assistance to a drunk and sleeping driver, while he is in his vehicle in the middle of the avenue Olivier-Heuzé. According to France Info, the police officer was trying to remove the ignition key when the driver engaged the forward gear, accelerated before dragging him for several meters. In its press release, the court of Le Mans indicates that “The motorist would have resumed his progression and hit a low wall, while the police officer was trying to stop him”.

Two prior convictions

The night sergeant, father of three daughters and married to a social worker, died on the spot. The investigation was entrusted to the police station and the regional judicial police service (SRPJ). The 26-year-old driver, placed in police custody for willful violence resulting in death without the intention of giving it to a person holding public authority, faces a sentence of twenty years of criminal imprisonment. According to the Le Mans court, the man was already the subject of two convictions, one of which was for driving under the influence of an alcoholic state and refusal to comply with a summons to stop dating from 2015. The second conviction concerns acts of contempt and rebellion, committed in 2018. The court announces the holding of analyzes to determine whether the young man had a level of alcohol and other toxins at the time of the facts.

Since the drama, tributes follow one another. For the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, “The nation has lost one of its everyday heroes”, and he wished to assure the police of his deep support. The mayor of Le Mans and president of the metropolis of Le Mans, Stéphane Le Foll, sent his condolences to the family of the deceased from Alençon (Orne) and reaffirmed “The support of the city of Le Mans for its family, its children and the police”. As for the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, he was quick to react to express “His strong emotion” and went this morning to the Le Mans police station. “The national police officers like the gendarmes do an extremely dangerous and difficult job […] This drama is there to remind us. The emergency police intervene every ten seconds on the national territory, said in front of the cameras the Minister of the Interior. Every half hour, there is a refusal to comply in France. Every half hour, the police and the gendarmes in our country have the risk of meeting death. ”

“Refusal of authority”

Regarding the refusal to comply, the tenant of Place Beauvau mentioned a phenomenon that occurs “more and more” in society, evoking “A refusal of authority which is not the work of professional delinquents” but also “Of a part of the population which no longer wishes to respect the uniform of the Republic”. On Twitter, the Union of National Police Commissioners (SCPN) asked: “How many deaths in our ranks for an urgent awareness?”

At the end of his speech, Gérald Darmanin finally recalled the announcement made by Emmanuel Macron aiming to equip all law enforcement agencies with pedestrian cameras. “If only to know a certain number of things to avoid outrages and attacks, explained the minister. Last year, 11,000 gendarmes and police were attacked verbally or physically. I continue and persist in thinking that it is the police and gendarmes who are the first victims of violence. ”

Charles Delouche

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