France. On Saturday, April 4, in the heart of a working-class neighbourhood in Chanteloup-les-Vignes, a 5-year-old child was seriously injured from a flashball (LBD) during a police intervention.
Originally published by Désarmons-Les. Translated by Enough 14.
It happened around 6:00 p.m. in Noah’s neighborhood. According to the police, six policemen intervened “to put an end to a motocross race”. Originally, a local resident reportedly called the police station of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (a neighbouring commune) saying that he had recognised his stolen motorbike in the same area.
When the police arrived on the scene, the police suspected that a motorbike they saw was the one reported stolen. The driver was eventually caught, arrested and taken into custody, even though his motorcycle was in compliance with the law. It was this intervention that triggered an understandable reaction on the part of the young people in the neighbourhood, who suffer daily police repression, a commonplace reality in these areas of relegation, especially in these times of confinement. In short, we are a long way from the “ambush” that the media reported in the early hours of the tragedy to justify the unjustifiable.
Authorities admit that police officers fired 14 rounds of LBD and 9 grenades (one tear gas and 8 de-cannonizing grenades) during this police intervention.
It was during these fire exchanges that a 5-year-old girl, who was accompanying her father to take down the garbage bins, was shot in her head. The shooting caused a serious head injury that required surgical treatment and the girl, who was transferred to Necker Hospital in Paris, was still in intensive care on Monday evening.
As soon as the first alerts about the little girl’s injury appeared on social networks, the Yvelines public prosecutor’s office took the lead in announcing the opening of two judicial investigations: one for “violence against persons holding public authority, damage and failure to respect the confinement” ( assigned to the Conflans police station), and the other “to determine the conditions of use of weapons for the defence of the forces of law and order”, assigned to the IGPN, the “police of the police”.
Not being able, this time, to criminalize the victim, the public prosecutor’s office and the police unions will try to find other justifications for this despicable act.
To begin with, the officials involved simply denied the child’s presence at the scene.
Julien Le Cam, secretary of the Yvelines Alliance union, and Maryvonne Caillibotte, Versailles public prosecutor, take turns in the media – Le Parisien in the lead -, to cover their tracks, a classic and very well-established score after such acts of police brutality. The prosecutor said: “one cannot link her injury to the skirmishes. The only certainty is that it took place at the same time.” For the Alliance representative, “The link” between the girl’s injury and an LBD shot “is a bit too fast. It is he who spreads the rumour of an “ambush” and denounces ” these areas where the confinement is not respected at all, where there is a feeling of impunity “, trying by a classic process to divert attention from the facts that interest us. Maryvonne Caillibotte also includes her verse stigmatizing all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood: “In Chanteloup-les-Vignes and in the neighbourhood of La Noé, more particularly, people do not respect the rules of confinement at their own risk and danger, and to the expense of those around them. The police continue to do their job”. (NB: taking out one’s garbage is not forbidden in the context of the confinement).
The mayor of Chanteloup, Catherine Arenou (various right), goes on to blame the parents for the situation: “After the social movements, the forces of law and order are exhausted and currently their role is difficult because they are not protected, they take risks,” she says. So, faced with these young people and teenagers who do not respect the containment measures, she believes that “the parents are responsible”.
Castaner , for his part, says he wants to deliver the truth to the family. It is the truth of his morals and those of his predecessors, as we have seen all these last years. As far as we are concerned, the assassinations of Zineb (Marseille) and Steve (Nantes) are enough to cast doubt on Castaner, to cite just these two examples among dozens of others since he became minister. To read his words, one would think it was a bad joke. The minister repeats the lies of the police about the “stolen motorbike” and calls the driver of the bike, which has never been stolen, a “delinquent”: “First of all, it’s a motorbike theft. An individual called the police, they immediately intervened and arrested the offender who was on the stolen motorcycle. At that point, they were approached by about 50 young people who started throwing projectiles at them. Two policemen were injured, two cars had about 20 hits and to get out they had to use the means of defence at their disposal.”
To summarize: we have a child that was injured and taken to hospital on the scene but she was not present; an injury not related to the police but that occurred at the same time and place as the police officers were there. And at the root of all of this would be a “breach of containment” and parental irresponsibility…
Unashamedly, they all accept the fact that an officer can shoot a 5-year-old child and still make excuses for it.
We have a different interpretation of the facts: a police officer shot a five-year-old child with a flashbang grenade, as evidenced by the testimony of her aunt accompanied by the photo of the projectile that hit the child (Warning Facebook link) and which remains in her possession: a 40 mm LBD grenade (NB: We urge the family to hand over this bullet to their lawyer and not to the police).
In view of the police record in this neighbourhood, we know that the use of weapons of war by the police is normal there, as are police abuses. No, the police officer who fired the shot was not “tired of social movements”, he acted exactly as he usually does. No, parents have no responsibility for the police violence imposed on their children on a daily basis. And no, confinement has nothing to do with this case and cannot excuse police abuse of any kind.
We would also like to point out that the argument that the LBD is imprecise (a fallacious argument as proven by ballistic expertise) cannot explain shooting a child either. In this video, a BAC  police officer even praised the accuracy of the weapon’s firing, and we repeat his words: “point aimed, point hit”. Therefore, the shooting cannot be accidental or explained by “a margin of error”, but well intentioned, and directed at a 5 year old child.
The use of weapons by the police is commonplace in this neighbourhood, and confinement, asserting police omnipotence, has only exacerbated it.
Since the beginning of mandatory confinement, two similar situations have been reported in local media. On March 22 at approximately 10:30 p.m., the same neighbourhood underwent a similar operation. In Place du Pas, in the Noé neighbourhood, the police was engaged in a chase for “refusal to comply”, and the police officers were, there too, allegedly “taken to task” by residents, which justifies 6 LBD shootings and, in all likelihood, the use of 3 stun grenades. On March 31 around 7:45 pm, the same scenario: the BAC launched a stun grenade, again on the same basis (police officers “taken to task” by ” thrown objects).
This area is attracting media attention as well as police morbidity. The newspapers never fail to point out that it was the scene of the shooting of Mathieu Kasowitz’s film (La Haine, 1995), which explains why it has remained a favourite hunting ground of the Yvelines BAC.
In 2015, for example, BAC police officers dragged a man in handcuffs, threw him in the back of their vehicle and punched him. The man collapses and is again dragged to another car behind the first vehicle. A passer-by asks the police “why are you doing this? “and receives a shot from with an LBD as the only answer. The police officer justifies this shooting as being aimed at a group of hostile youths behind the passer-by and who, of course, are not visible on the video.
We let you see the inconsistency of this version for yourselves. The policeman, author of the shooting, was indicted, in October 2019, by the criminal court for “voluntary violence by a person in charge of public authority” as well as his three colleagues for “forgery and use of forgery”, having covered their colleague in the arrest report.
Our thoughts are obviously with this little girl, with her family, we hope that she will come out of this without any aftermath effects, and we cannot say a word that will alleviate their sorrow and pain, because no words can be equal to confront this kind of injustice.
 Christophe Castaner is a French politician who has been serving as the Minister of the Interior since 16 October 2018 and as the Executive Officer of La République En Marche! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christophe_Castaner
 BAC are French police units. They act in civilian clothes,the full name for BAC is Brigade Anti-Criminalité. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_Nationale
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