Flagrant Denial - contribution to the journal "Police State" for the 27th International Day Against Police Brutality - 2023
Illustration by Valfret (attached to the article)
Title : In Guadeloupe, the gendarmerie kills "without regrets"
This is the only trial for so-called "refusal to obey" that has resulted in a law enforcement officer being sentenced to prison. The appeal trial was to be held in Lyon on November 28, 2022. It has just been postponed and will take place in October 2023.
March 11, 2018, Baie Mahault (Guadeloupe). The commander of the gendarmerie brigade Romain Dobritz fires seven bullets in the direction of Yannick Locatelli who dies shortly after. The scenario is typical: very quickly, the prosecutor mentions in the press the delinquent past of the victim, and the thesis of "refusal to comply" is brandished by the two gendarmes present. But a video surveillance tape invalidated this story. The gendarme was sentenced by the Court of Assizes of Basse-Terre in February 2021. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 3 of which were suspended. This was the only firm prison sentence handed down in this type of case. The prosecution had appealed, judging the sentence too lenient. It had requested 15 years in prison, considering that the facts constituted a voluntary homicide. The court of assizes had only retained "voluntary violence having led to death without intention to give it". The result is paradoxical: Romain Dobritz, placed in provisional detention at the end of the trial, was released a few weeks later. The appeal trial was to be held on November 28 in Lyon. It has just been postponed to October 2023. Here is the testimony of Alexandra Cerruti, the victim's companion (just before the postponement was announced).
Justice or "a technique to gain time
"For the trial that arrives on November 28, one of the gendarme's lawyers is asking for a postponement because his wife has a difficult pregnancy. I'm sorry for his wife, but my children have been in therapy for almost five years and no one cares. No one is taking into account that this wait is really hard. It shouldn't take this long. The justice system, I don't understand it. If it had been an average person, it would have been very different. The trial can be cancelled up to the day before for the next day. Usually, for trials like this to be postponed, it has to be very serious. I even wonder if it is not a technique for them to gain time. I come from Nice so I had to book hotels for the lawyers, train tickets. The costs are piling up. You have to pay the lawyers, the long therapies, the plane tickets, it's a fortune. We should never have gone through all this.
Lies of the gendarmes
My daughters lost their father, I lost my husband. Yannick was not an angel. He should have gone to prison but he didn't deserve to die like that, like a dog. The gendarme emptied his gun on him. When he was shown the video, the only thing he could say was that he was caught in "a tunnel effect". In addition to that, colleagues, in their statements, said that he bragged about shooting him in the heart that "it was aimed right at him". The gendarme who was with him that night testified that Constable Dobritz made him rehearse a well-crafted version of what to say. And that's what he did. Without the video, there would not even have been a trial because both had the same version of the facts. Fortunately, after his custody, Dobritz's colleague broke down and gave a version that matched the video. He explained that Romain Dobritz, who was also his superior, had forced him to lie.
Constable Dobritz made Yannick's story personal. On the spot, he did not respect any procedure. Some of his colleagues said he had a picture of Yannick on his desk. I don't know what happened between them, but he wanted Yannick for sure. He didn't wait for his teams to get in place. He left without a radio, in an unmarked car, which apparently is forbidden in this type of intervention, and acted alone.
"He never expressed any regret.
This gendarme, Captain Romain Dobritz, is a murderer. It was found that he lied throughout his statement. Between what he says and the video, there is nothing that corresponds. And then when you shoot at one meter aiming at someone's chest, you can't say that there was no intention to give death.
He was in custody for a few days, not even three weeks. He came out straight away. For us, this is unthinkable. I think that his status must play in his favor, because it is impossible that a person is released in such a short time for such serious facts. Does he have connections somewhere? I don't know. But here, it is so obvious that I do not understand why nobody reacts. There are people who, for a lack of license, get six months, one year, and he for a murder, that he gets out of prison so quickly, it is unthinkable. We are being laughed at, clearly. Today he is still at the gendarmerie, he works, he lives normally. He has never expressed any regrets, never apologized, nothing at all. We are in a movie and we are powerless. We can't do anything, we watch, we suffer and it's still not over."