The weapon used by a 37-year-old motorist who fired in the direction of the gendarmes on Wednesday in the Territoire de Belfort, before being killed by the soldiers, turned out to be fictitious, which the latter did not know, the prosecutor said on Monday. of the Republic.
This weapon “was a replica of a handgun firing blank ammunition,” Belfort prosecutor Eric Plantier said in a statement. “This circumstance could not however be known to the soldiers at the time of their intervention”, he underlines, adding: “the investigation will allow to retain their state of self-defense”.
According to the magistrate, the reaction of the gendarmes was “strictly proportionate and justified by the imminent peril of death to which they were exposed as a result of the use of a firearm, almost at close range, against one of them. “.
Wednesday morning, the thirty-something had screeched his tires in front of the gendarmerie of Beaucourt (Territoire de Belfort) and had seized a handgun in his trunk before fleeing. Pursued by the soldiers, he forced a roadblock, hit a gendarmerie vehicle and exhibited his weapon on several occasions.
Finally immobilized by the surveillance and intervention platoons of the gendarmerie (PSIG) in Danjoutin, the motorist “then pointed a handgun in the direction of the passenger of the PSIG vehicle who was at his height”, according to Mr. Plantier. .
The gendarmes proceeded “on several occasions to the usual summons, in vain ordering the motorist to drop his weapon”, until he “opened fire twice in the direction of the military passenger of the PSIG vehicle ”.
The soldiers then “replied (e) a total of six times and the motorist (was) fatally shot at chest height,” he detailed.
The two gendarmes involved in the shooting were placed in police custody on Wednesday, before being released after checking the consistency of their statements.
The investigation opened for “willful violence with a weapon resulting in death” continues to “determine the circumstances in which the motorist acted and could have voluntarily caused the conditions of his death,” said the magistrate.
His mother had called the gendarmerie indicating that her son wanted to end his life. The prosecutor praised “the professionalism and the coolness of the soldiers of the PSIG”, “despite the tragic circumstances of their intervention”.