Jeweler’s Prosecution for Killing Thief Raises Controversy in France

The prosecution of a Nice jeweler who killed a fleeing thief has become a major issue in France.

According to the BBC, on Sept. 10, jeweler Stephen Turk, 67, shot a 19-year-old man in the back as he fled after robbing his store. A second thief got away. The jeweler was charged with voluntary homicide and could face life in prison. 

Prosecutors say that, while the law allows for killing in self-defense, Turk was in no danger when he fired his weapon.

But with France undergoing a spate of jewel robberies, some complain that Turk’s prosecution is unfair. Storeowners in Nice shut their businesses on Sept. 16 in protest, according to France24. A Facebook fan page defending Turk has reportedly received over 1 million likes.

The storeowner told the media that, while he “regrets” the killing, “it is normal that I would defend myself.”

The issue has become so high-profile that French President François Hollande has weighed in, saying, “It’s up to the justice system to do justice, and no one else.”

Jewelers Security Alliance president John Kennedy notes similar cases can and do happen in this country.

“In most jurisdictions in the United States, you can’t shoot a fleeing felon once the incident is over,” he says. “We have seen jewelers prosecuted here in similar circumstances.”

And Kennedy adds: “The JSA has long advocated that jewelers not have guns in their store, because it could only lead to further tragedy.”

JCK looked at the issue of whether jewelers should have guns in the June issue.


JCK News Director