Fourteen years after her son Pierre Hemelrijck fell heavily with his moped after a police chase, mother Brigitte De Pauw is still looking for answers. Brigitte has so far waged a dogged legal battle, but without result. “In all these years I have not found justice. I am looking for personal peace of mind. Writing a book about this case helped me do that.”
In the summer of 2008, two inspectors from the police zone Riho chased Pierre Hemelrijck (then 17) because he was driving without a light. The young man fled because he feared that the police would confiscate his moped if they discovered that he had driven it up. During that pursuit, the moped rider fell in the Smedenstraat in Roeselare. He was taken to hospital in critical condition. The young man had, among other things, broken ribs and a triple pelvic fracture. After four days, he was allowed to leave the intensive care unit.
According to the young man, the fall was attributable to the officers. They would have opened the door of the combi while driving to force the young man to a stop. The judge acquitted the two inspectors. Fourteen years after the accident, mother Brigitte De Pauw is still convinced of a deliberate collision. “In recent years I noticed too many mistakes or coincidences. The elements that come to light during my search for the truth indicate, at the very least, carelessness on the part of the judiciary and the police. No investigating judge was appointed, evidence disappeared and a crucial interrogation was lost. The paint samples that could possibly prove that Pierre was hit are also not released.”
Mother Brigitte has engaged seven lawyers in the past fourteen years. “I spent thousands of euros in search of the truth. I haven’t been on vacation anymore. I don’t want to let this go. Pierre has been declared disabled for a few percent. No, I don’t need to reopen the whole thing, but I do look for personal peace of mind. I want to close this chapter, but then I have to know exactly what happened there.” Her son’s accident dominated Brigitte’s life in recent years. She struggled with depression for a while. “I also noticed that people were avoiding me because I wanted to tell them my story.”
Brigitte now tells that story in the book ‘Unpunished police brutality? Cover up or judicial failure?’. For the book she is collaborating with author Ignace Vandewalle. “I have researched everything and have found a sequence of bizarre events and miscarriages of justice. For me, this is a degrading story,” says Vandewalle. The book will be available from 15 September in better bookshops or via www.bfelt.be. On Friday 16 September there will be a book presentation from 7 pm in café ‘t Motje in Roeselare. “After writing the book, we are calling on the Justice Minister of Quickenborne to better support the justice system, and to have proceedings against police officers in another judicial district. We also ask him to use his positive injunction right to release the incomprehensibly withheld evidence.” Meanwhile, Brigitte continues her struggle for clarity. “Although I have to admit that my anger has ebbed away by writing the book.”