When he intervened between a woman and a violent man in a parking lot in Latte, Italy, the Monegasque policeman did not know the aggressor had AIDS and Hepatitis C…
At the Maison de France, members of the National Order of Merit presented the Civic Action Prize to Johann Jorquera, a police officer in the Public Security, born in Monaco and living in Castellar. One of France’s highest awards may be a positive finale to the nightmare he suffered. It was the 25th of May, 2014. A day not quite like any other, because the Formula 1 Grand Prix encouraged him to take his car towards Italy. First destination: Conte de Latte supermarket to buy flowers for Mother’s Day. In the parking lot, as he prepared to leave, Johann Jorquera witnessed an altercation between a woman holding a child in her arms and a man, “in his fifties, verbally and physically aggressive.”
The Monegasque police officer tried to calm the situation but nothing worked.
“I offered him my parking space. And suddenly I was hit in the face. I defended myself, belted him and we both fell to the ground.”
The two men were wounded. The Red Cross and the Carabinieri intervened. There was no way he was getting home now. Johann Jorquera went to the Ventimiglia Carabinieri station. This is where his Italian colleagues told him that the aggressor is an addict, well known to the police.
“50% chance of contracting HIV”
But he learned above all that man has both AIDS and Hepatitis C. Johann Jorquera knew that he had been in contact with the man’s blood.
“I asked to go to the Princess Grace Hospital as soon as possible.” There, he saw Dr. Philippe Heudier. “He told me,‘It’s a textbook case, you may be infected. You have a 50% chance.” One chance in two… and not a second to lose. Triple-drug therapy was prescribed for one month. “It was extremely heavy. I slept twenty hours a day. I was constantly vomiting and dizzy. I lost eleven pounds. Now, almost three years later, I sometimes wake up with the taste of medicine in my mouth.” Johann Jorquera still remembers the day he had to call the doctor to find out if he had contracted HIV. “I stayed for an hour at home, in the dark, with the shutters down. I dreaded the phone call. The side effects were such that I was convinced that I was sick. And then I picked up my phone. I learned that I was not HIV-positive. Just thinking about it still disturbs me.”
A relief. But the ordeal was also “physically and mentally exhausting”.
“Then we had another slope to climb. I then had to take medication to restore my immune system.” Before, Johann Jorquera worked for the night police. Today, he works during the day.
“We went to court in Italy. I was the victim on the stand. The moral damage was sturdy. But I did not want to pursue this gentleman.” Members of the National Order of Merit gave Johann Jorquera an opportunity to be rewarded at the end of his difficult experience. “I am extremely proud today and it gives me great pleasure. I am a policeman and it is normal to lend my services. Being a policeman is 24/7. It’s a state of mind not just a profession.”
The Director of Public Security was present at the Maison de France to pay tribute to the deputy officer’s courage. “A police officer is on duty 24 hours a day. It’s important to be exemplary. To be respected, one must be respectable. And this respectability is a standard we must have permanently. The gesture of Johann Jorquera is a strong act that should serve as an example to all his colleagues. This type of event is an example of value to the youngest in our profession. Johann Jorquera took risks. It’s admirable. He demonstrated a great act of civility.”