Demonstrations of "yellow vests" : the State found responsible for a police charge on Geneviève Legay in 2019 in Nice

The Nice administrative court recognized, Wednesday May 15, the State responsible for 80% of the injuries suffered by Geneviève Legay, a septuagenarian “yellow vest” activist victim of a violent police charge in March 2019 in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes) . An expert opinion will have to determine the amount of reparations to be paid to Ms. Legay, who had claimed 50,000 euros in her appeal filed in November 2020.

This procedure is distinct from the criminal case, located in Lyon, in which the commissioner who ordered the charge was sentenced to six months in prison. Rabah Souchi, who became number 2 in the Nice municipal police, appealed. On March 23, 2019, Ms. Legay, then aged 73 and departmental spokesperson for Attac, took part in an unauthorized demonstration of “yellow vests” in the center of Nice.

The images of this gray-haired woman surrounded by police, first standing with a rainbow flag then lying unconscious on the ground after the charge, caused a stir, as did the efforts of the authorities to try to exonerate the police or the words of President Emmanuel Macron wishing “a form of wisdom” in his seventies. Victim of multiple fractures, particularly to the skull, Geneviève Legay remained in hospital for two months. And came out with after-effects: no longer disturbed sense of smell, hearing and taste, 45 physiotherapy sessions to regain some balance and a long psychological follow-up.

In its judgment rendered on Wednesday, the administrative court reviews the course of the facts and concludes that “the applicant’s injuries were the direct result of a measure taken by the public authority (…). Therefore, the State must be held responsible”. While noting that the septuagenarian “demonstrated deliberate recklessness”he limits his share of responsibility to 20%, recalling that the demonstrators were peaceful: “The danger to which she exposed herself could not reasonably have included the risk of serious head injury.”

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