A Tunisian migrant smuggler who rammed a police vehicle in a stolen vehicle was shot and killed during a police chase near the French city of Nice, but some are expressing outrage that the police officer in the case has been charged with manslaughter.
The incident occurred on Wednesday evening near Nice in the south of France last week when the driver of a van refused to stop at a police checkpoint in Sospel. After refusing to comply and driving off, police officers became involved in a car chase with the suspect. Once the driver became stuck in traffic, he attempted to ram police officers. A responding police officer demanded the assailant stop his vehicle and get out, and when he began driving away, the officer opened fire, killing the driver.
Video of the case has been posted to social media.
According to French news outlet CNews, a judicial investigation for involuntary manslaughter has been opened against the police officer who opened fire and killed the driver. He was indicted, placed under judicial control, and is now prohibited from carrying a firearm.
One of France’s top police unions is drawing attention to the fact that the driver was ramming police officers with his own vehicle when the officer fired.
“We have a thug with a pedigree as long as the wall of China,” said Matthieu Valet, spokesperson for the independent union of police commissioners, about the Tunisian migrant’s refusal to stop his vehicle.
Others took an even harder line, with Egyptian-born Jean Messiha, who is the party spokeperson of the Reconquest party, saying on CNews: “Stop whining about the death of a scoundrel who tried to run over cops. We are at war but not the one Macron is waging. This is one against the anti-French scum. And our cops are on the front line, and we have to support them.”
There are now reports that the driver of the vehicle who was killed in Nice was involved in a police chase in Italy shortly before arriving in France, indicating he was leading police on chases across more than one European country.
Another passenger injured during the incident will be presented to the investigating magistrate for a possible indictment for concealment and aggravated theft. For the time being, the prosecution requires his placement in pre-trial detention.
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The driver of the stolen vehicle had been spotted by the police “zigzagging dangerously” on the expressway bypassing Nice. The police then signaled the driver to follow them, but the vehicle accelerated and took an exit lane. “Stuck in the flow of traffic,” the fleeing vehicle attempted to turn around only to find itself facing the police car, which it struck “several times.”
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The police officer currently in custody then came down the road, firing once, according to another police source. The driver, despite attempts to resuscitate him, died on the spot.
The deceased driver was allegedly a Tunisian living in France for a year, Anthony Borré, Nice deputy mayor, told AFP. He reportedly had 21 criminal records, predominantly for cases related to theft, narcotics, driving without a license, and extortion.
According to the mayor of Nice, refusals to comply are a crime and are increasing. Municipal police officers from Nice have thus been confronted with “two particularly violent refusals to comply” in just 24 hours.