French police officer killed on Champ Elysees was proud defender of gay rights

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (centre left) standing as she pays her respect at the site of a shooting on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on April 21, 2017.
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (centre left) standing as she pays her respect at the site of a shooting on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on April 21, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (NYTIMES) - He was a committed policeman and a proud gay man.

He was among the officers who responded to a terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015, and he was in the crowd when Sting helped reopen the 19th-century building a year later.

Xavier Jugelé, 37, a Paris police officer since 2010, fell victim to terrorism on Thursday evening (April 20). He was in a police vehicle on the heavily guarded Champs-Élysées, Paris's most famous boulevard, when a gunman opened fire, killing him and wounding two other officers, along with a bystander.

The gunman was shot dead as he tried to flee; the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack a short while later.

Jugelé was mourned on Friday by friends and fellow officers.

"He was a simple man who loved his job, and he was really committed to the LGBT cause," said Mickael Bucheron, president of Flag, a French association for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender police officers.

"He joined the association a few years ago, and he protested with us when there was the homosexual propaganda ban at the Sochi Olympic Games."

The son of a former member of the armed forces, Jugelé was born on May 2, 1979, in Bourges and grew up in Romorantin-Lanthenay in central France. He was in a civil union. He and his partner did not have children.

Before 2010, Jugelé was part of the Gendarmerie, one of the two national police forces. He recently had farewell drinks with colleagues because he was set to leave the Paris force and join the Judicial Police, an agency that pursues suspects and serves search warrants, among other functions.

"He was aware of the risks of the job and the terrorist threat, although we did not speak a lot about it," Bucheron said. "He was a great man and friend, it is a big shock for us."

Juglé joined protests against Russia's ban on "homosexual propaganda" before the 2014 Olympics. He also went to Greece to help police officers deal with migrants who had crossed the Aegean Sea and were seeking shelter in the European Union.

Yves Lefebvre, secretary-general of the police union Unité SGP Police-Force Ouvrière, said that Jugelé had been known for his professionalism and as "an excellent colleague."

President François Hollande of France, speaking from the Élysée Palace on Thursday evening, said that an official tribute would be paid to Jugelé in the coming days.

Matthias Fekl, French interior minister, visited the hospital where the two wounded police officers were being treated and expressed his support on Twitter for their relatives.

Fekl added that flags at police stations would be flown at half-staff in tribute.

France has been under a state of emergency since the attacks of November 2015 in and around Paris, which included the assault on the Bataclan that left 90 people dead.

Returning to the concert hall a year later for the Sting concert, Jugelé told People Magazine in an interview: "I'm happy to be here."

"Glad the Bataclan is reopening. It's symbolic," he said. "We're here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert's to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists."

He added: "It doesn't feel strange, it feels important. Symbolic."