On April 20, police officer Xavier Jugelé was shot and killed while on duty at the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, by a gunman who targeted a parked police van. Six days later, a ceremony at the city’s police headquarters honored the 37-year-old. At the event, Jugelé’s civil partner, Etienne Cardiles, gave a powerful, inspiring speech. TIME has translated the tribute to English. You can read it in full below.
Xavier, Thursday morning, as usual, I went to work and you were still sleeping. We exchanged [messages] during the day about our vacation plans in a country so far way that you told me you were so impatient and that you had never traveled so far. The details about our visas, our preoccupations regarding our accommodation monopolized our messages — a frenzy filled with happiness especially since our plane tickets had been confirmed on Tuesday.
You reported for duty at 2 p.m. in your uniform of protector of the peace — one that you cared for especially when your appearance needed to be flawless. You and your colleagues had received the mission to join the police precinct of the 8th district of Paris, where you were tasked, as often, with protecting the public on this beautiful Avenue des Champs Elysees. You were affected to the 102 Avenue des Champs Elysees, in front of the Cultural Institute of Turkey.
You enjoyed this type of mission, I know it. Because it was on the Champs, and it represented France. Because you were also protecting culture.
At that instant, at that spot, the worst happened. To you and your colleagues. It was one of these events that we all dread and that we all hope will never happen. You were taken instantly, and I thank your stars for that. Your colleagues were injured, one of them seriously. He’s slowly recovering, and we’re thankful for that. All of them were shocked.
I came home that night without you, with an extreme and deep sorrow that will alleviate itself one day, maybe, I don’t know. This pain made me feel closer than ever to your colleagues who suffer, like you, silently. Like me, silently.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m suffering without hate. I’m borrowing these words from Antoine Leiris [whose wife was killed in the 2015 attack at the Bataclan], whose great wisdom in the face of sorrow I admire. I had read countless of times these lines a few months ago. It’s a life lesson that helped me grow up and protect me today.
When the first messages appeared to inform Parisians that a grave incident was taking place on the Champs Elysees and that a policeman had lost his life, a small voice told me it was you, and that same voice reminded me of these generous and healing words: “You will not have my hate.”
This hate, Xavier, I don’t have it because it never existed in you. Because that hate never made your heart beat. Because that hate didn’t make you a gendarme [a different French police force] and, later, a policeman. Because community service and the protection of all was an integral part of your upbringing and your convictions. Because tolerance, dialogue and temperance were your best weapons. Because behind the policeman there was the man. Because you become a policeman by choice; the choice to help others and to fight against injustice.
This noble mission, which is often threatened, I admired even before knowing you. This job of policeman is the only one that the Declaration of Human Rights makes reference to. In its Article 12, it enacts this evident truth: “The guarantee of the rights of man and of the citizen necessitates a public force.” It comes with a clarification that’s particularly important today: “This force is thus instituted for the advantage of all and not for the particular utility of those in whom it is trusted.”
It was a vision of the job that we shared. But it was just one side of the man you were. The other side was filled of culture and joy, where cinema and music were so important to you. Seeing five movies in an enclosed movie theater during a sunny summer day didn’t scare you. And, of course, you only favored the original versions as the purist you were and for the love of this language, English, that you wanted to speak perfectly. You went to one concert after another, sometimes following artists on entire tour. Celine Dion was your star. Zazie, Madonna, Britney Spears and many others made our windows vibrate. Theater transported you, and you embraced it fully. No cultural experience scared you. You’d see the worst of movies on opening day, to the end, no matter what.
You lived a life of joy and immense smiles where love and tolerance were unchallenged masters. You left this life like a star.
I want to tell all of your colleagues how close I am to them. I want to tell your hierarchy that I saw their sincerity and humanity. I want to tell everyone who’s fighting to prevent these events from happening that I know the feeling of defeat and culpability they feel but that they need to continue the fight for peace. I want to tell everyone who shared their emotions with your parents and with me that we were deeply touched. I want to tell your family that we’re united. And to everyone who were so attentive toward us, toward you, that they are so deserving of you.
To you, I want to say that you will remain in my heart forever. I love you.
We need to stay dignified and ensure the peace and keep the peace.
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