Sentenced to eight months in jail and detention warrant for throwing a slab at a gendarme

A 21-year-old was sentenced by the Criminal Court of Saint-Martin by summary trial last Friday.

CCTV images attest to the act of violence of Jean-Manuel, a 21-year-old who threw a slab at a gendarme during a simple routine check on the public highway on February 25. “We can clearly see that he was gaining momentum... It's a very broad movement”, notes the Deputy Prosecutor, Yves Paillard.

On this day, the gendarmes on patrol at Sandy Ground notice a group of four individuals taking cannabis. Then they decide to control them. But called on another intervention, they leave the scene. They returned half an hour later and still see the same group of individuals, only one left in the meantime. The gendarmes request the identity to one of them who refuses. A second individual fled, and the third, Jean-Manuel, who was asked nothing, took a step back, seized a slab and threw it at a gendarme. The latter had the reflex to protect his face with his arm; his elbow will still be injured. He will have stitches and a 4-day ITT issued three days after the fact.

Jean-Manuel will be identified through CCTV images and arraigned on Thursday, March 9. Upon termination of his custody, he appeared Friday morning before the Criminal Court of Saint-Martin according to the immediate summons procedure.

Jean-Manuel is alone at the hearing. Only his brother of two years his junior, is present. His social situation is precarious. He has a contract until May within the association Sandy Ground on the move. The Director confirms that he is “someone serious and punctual”. He lives with his parents and two brothers in Sandy Ground but he doesn't know what they do as a job, except for his father who is a mason. The social investigation indicates a lack of communication within the family. Jean-Manuel has dropped out of school when he was 14 years old because he didn't like it. Since then, he is doing small jobs. He is paid 500 euros per month and gives 200 to his mother to support her.

He smoke two joints a day - one in the morning, one at night - since he was 18 years old. He doesn't want to stop, or seek help. “This calms me down”, he justifies. He buys for twenty dollars per month of cannabis with “his own money”. That is why he doesn't accept the fact that the gendarmes take his drugs. And even less that they tell him he doesn't have the right to smoke in front of his house. He doesn’t think it is not normal to be stopped on the grounds for consuming cannabis, because he thinks that it is legal. The behavior of the security forces made him so mad and he threw a slab. “I didn’t think it was going to hit the gendarme,” he says. According to the advice of his lawyer, he said he regretted his action. He asked the first name of the gendarme and apologized to him.

The answer of the Prosecutor's office was “immediate”. “We do not want groups that are hostile to the gendarmes. We are not in these cases of humiliating checks of young people in metropolitan France, who can be put against a wall by the police in front of their girlfriends. “We are here in the case of a simple routine check”, says Yves Paillard. And the president of the Court to insist: “you were not the one to whom the gendarme asked his identity because he smoked. You were asked nothing”. The two other young people fled the scene and have not been identified by investigators.

The Prosecutor's office requires a sentence of eight months in jail and requested a warrant for detention because of repeated offenses. The accused was already convicted by the juvenile court in 2013 for having stabbed his older brother during an argument. He had also snatched the bag of a woman in the street and was accused, but without being prosecuted, in a case of throwing stones to gendarmes in 2013.

Maître Lacassagne, an attorney appointed to the case, focused her argument on her client's lack of education and the fact that a prison sentence would not be effective. “As many young people in Saint-Martin, he does not understand the role of the gendarmes. They consider their controls as intrusions into their lives, as provocations. They will react as such, as long as we don't explain to them the role and mission of the gendarmes. And this isn't in jail that they will learn to respect them,” she says.

Despite these arguments and after deliberation, the Court followed the submissions of the Deputy Prosecutor. Jean-Manuel was sentenced to eight months in prison and must pay 500 euros in damages to the injured gendarme who was a civil claimant. In addition, a warrant for detention was pronounced against him. Therefore, he is leaving as soon as Friday afternoon in prison in Guadeloupe. A sentence that the younger brother did not understand and which was explained to him by the gendarmes present to accompany Jean-Manuel. The two brothers kissed and hugged each other before leaving.






Estelle Gasnet