Death of Gaye Camara: the self-defence thesis called into question
In partnership with Disclose, INDEX reconstructed the events that led to the death of Gaye Camara, 26, during a police intervention in January 2018. Supported by 3D modelling, our investigation calls into question the self-defence of the police officer who fired at the vehicle.
Date of incident
Épinay-sur-Seine (93), France
16 January 2018 in Epinay-sur-Seine. Around 11:55 p.m., a vehicle crashes into a fast-food restaurant on rue de Paris. Its driver—Gaye Camara, a 26-year-old black man—has just been shot in the head as he was trying to escape arrest by the police. He dies the following day.
An investigation is opened, but the case is dismissed shortly after. The police officer who fired invoked the state of self-defence: he allegedly fired as the vehicle « was rushing at him ».
During the judicial investigation, no reconstruction of the event was carried out. In partnership with the investigative media Disclose, INDEX conducted a counter-investigation based on a detailed 3D modelling of the incident. Our conclusions cast doubt on the state of self-defence of the police officer involved.
According to available data, the policeman who shot Gaye Camara in the head was positioned at a distance comprised between 5 and 9 m from the vehicle when he opened fire on the windshield.
Moreover, at the moment he fired, the police officer was not facing the vehicle: the trajectory of his bullet forms an angle of 38º with respect to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle.
From a judicial point of view, these two points are likely to call into question the applicability of self-defence in the context of the homicide of Gaye Camara.
Indeed, according to the law, three conditions must be met for the self-defence clause to be retained : necessity, simultaneity and proportionality of the response to a real attack. The shooting distance, the fact that the police officer was not facing the vehicle when he fired, and the fact that he fired a shot that would probably be fatal for the driver, are all elements that call into question the qualification of the police officer’s action as self-defence as defined by law.