A police officer was shot and killed on Wednesday near a deal point in Avignon by a gunman who then fled, a tragedy that occurred as the executive made the fight against trafficking a priority and insecurity s announcement as a major theme of the presidential campaign.
“The fight against drug trafficking across the country is like a war. We are waging this war thanks to soldiers, (…) the police and gendarmes of France. Today, one of these soldiers died a hero, “Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters on the spot at around midnight.
In the evening, hundreds of heavily armed police were deployed around the scene of the crime, a small street inside the ramparts of the City of the Popes in the city center. On site, a forensic investigator was still taking samples shortly before 11 p.m.
It was there that at around 6.30 p.m., the deceased policeman and his crew were sent “to a gathering on the public road around a deal point,” according to the Minister of the Interior. On their arrival on the scene, a “very sensitive place in terms of drugs” according to the union representative SGP-Police Grand Sud Unit Bruno Bartocetti, the crew checked the group present: during this intervention, one of the individuals allegedly fired “several times” at the police officer.
The other police officers present retaliated, without being able to arrest the author of the shootings who fled – “on a scooter”, according to a police source. Despite the intervention of his colleagues and the firefighters, the victim, a 36-year-old man in a civil partnership with two children, died.
Vaucluse, one of the ten poorest departments in France, has seen an increase in drug trafficking in recent years, according to police and judicial officials interviewed recently by AFP. “In the Vaucluse department since January 1, there are 83 arrests for drug trafficking, more than 60 operations against the points of deal”, detailed in Avignon Gérald Darmanin. “The operations that we are carrying out show that in the seizures of the police officers, it is an increase of more than 30% of the weapons seized during arrests in drug trafficking”, also pointed out the minister.
Occurring ten days after the jihadist assassination of Stéphanie Monfeture, a police officer killed with a knife in the Rambouillet police station, this new tragedy immediately aroused strong reactions from the police unions. “Nothing justifies such barbarism,” the Synergie Officiers union protested.
Alliance Police Nationale insisted: the union “ensures that it is necessary to punish with firm prison accompanied by a committal warrant those who assault or kill police officers (…), denounces this lax justice which modifies or reduces the sentences of these individuals who enjoy unlimited impunity ”.
A woman, suspected of having been present Wednesday evening in Avignon near the deal point where a police officer in intervention was killed, was arrested this Thursday as part of the investigation, franceinfo learned from a source close to the investigation . She is suspected of having wanted to buy drugs from the dealer who shot and was taken into custody at the Avignon police station.
Two men, the shooter and an accomplice, who fled after the shooting, are still actively sought by investigators from the judicial police in charge of the investigation under the authority of the Avignon public prosecutor’s office. Late Wednesday afternoon, the deceased policeman and his crew were sent “to a crowd on the public highway around a deal point”, according to the Minister of the Interior.
The Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin came in person to Avignon on Wednesday evening and today again to meet the police officers of Avignon in the morning.
The Minister of the Interior then spoke shortly after midnight: “The fight against drug trafficking is like a war. We are waging it thanks to the soldiers, police and gendarmes of France. Today, a of these soldiers died a hero. “
The socialist mayor of the city nevertheless recalls that the city is not a zone of lawlessness: “The city center is not the subject of violence like (yesterday) evening but there are some points of deal, explains Cécile Helle. In recent weeks, the police have made several arrests at the level of drug trafficking. But this is a step that has been taken with disrespect for the police and security. “
Invited Thursday on Europe 1, the writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy denounced “a political climate in France which can give the feeling of a license to kill the holders of public authority, including the police”.
“You cannot spend your time demonizing the police, treating them as fascist as some do, including politicians, and not having consequences of this kind,” he continued. “Because there, this is not a lost territory of the Republic, it is the center of a large French city!”
For Bernard-Henri Lévy, this “political climate” contributes to the phenomenon of a society “which is falling apart”. Just like the tribune of the generals published in the weekly “Current values” and which made a lot of talk in the political world. “A social bond is undone by several ends at the same time”, advanced the philosopher for whom the platform of the generals “participates in the disintegration” of society.
The crime also comes as the executive has made security a top priority in recent months, one year before the presidential election. In an interview with Le Figaro, Emmanuel Macron recently called the eradication of drug trafficking “the mother of battles” – the right and the RN denouncing for their part the failure of the government on the subject.
According to a study by the Elabe Institute published last month, French voters cite employment (31%), purchasing power (31%) and security (30%) as the themes that will matter most in their choice in 2022.