French President Emmanuel Macron said the killing of a teenager by police during a traffic jam was “inexcusable” as France braced for more angry protests on Wednesday.
A day after a 17-year-old was shot in the chest by a police officer who subsequently appeared to lie about the circumstances of the killing, the government said it would deploy 2,000 riot police to respond to any disturbances.
The shooting sparked riots overnight in several Paris suburbs.
Celebrities and politicians expressed outrage and grief over the teenager’s death, which Macron called “inexplicable” and “inexcusable”.
The teen, Nael M., was pulled over by two police officers Tuesday for a traffic violation, prosecutors said.
Police initially reported that an officer shot the teen as he drove towards him with a car, but that claim was contradicted by a video circulating on social media and confirmed by AFP.
The video shows two officers actually standing next to the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver. A voice was heard saying, “Your head is going to be shot.”
When the car suddenly pulled away, the police appeared to shoot directly.
The car moved tens of meters before crashing. The driver died shortly after.
His death immediately sparked protests in Nanterre, a suburb west of Paris.
Dumpsters were set ablaze, a music school was on fire and police tried to disperse protesters with tear gas.
Protests then erupted in some neighboring suburbs.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Wednesday that 31 people had been arrested overnight, 24 police officers were slightly injured and about 40 vehicles were set on fire.
Dammanin added that 2,000 police officers would be deployed later on Wednesday to deal with any further violence.
“For My Son’s Rebellion”
Government spokesman Olivier Villan told reporters that Macron expressed “emotion” over the shooting at Wednesday’s weekly cabinet meeting and called for “calm” on behalf of the government.
Our relationship with the family and the progress of the children and teens are separated. I am very disunited and country loving.
La Justice a été immédiatement saisie….
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 28, 2023
“A teenager was killed. It is inexplicable and inexcusable,” Macron said during an official visit to Marseille in southern France.
“There is nothing to justify the death of a young man.”
He said the case had “moved the heart of the country” and expressed “respect and affection” for the victim’s family.
Prime Minister Elizabeth Bohn tweeted that she hoped “our absolute demand for truth will bring calm over anger”.
The mayor of Nanterre, Patrick Jarry, has changed his life and decided to find light in the drama in his city.
I have absolutely no concerns about what is really going on with the importer of the commodity.
— Elizabeth Borne (@Elisabeth_Borne) June 28, 2023
The 38-year-old police officer who was filmed shooting to death has been taken into custody and is being investigated for manslaughter.
Nail M.’s attorney, Yassine Bouzrou, said he would pursue additional legal action against the officer for manslaughter and his associate’s involvement in the shooting.
The attorney also said he would file a further complaint against the police’s false testimony that Nael M. tried to crush them.
There are two passengers in the car. One of them escaped and the other, also a teenager, was briefly detained.
On Thursday, Nael M.’s mother posted a video on the TikTok platform calling for a tribute parade for her son. “It was a revolt for my son,” she said.
Celebrities also expressed disgust, concern and anger over the shooting.
“I am hurting for my France,” Kylian Mbappe, captain of the French men’s national football team and star player for Paris Saint-Germain, wrote on Twitter.
“This is an unacceptable situation. All my thoughts are with the friends and family of Nair, the little angel who left us too early,” Mbappe said.
J’ai mal à ma France. 💙🤍💔💔💔
This situation is unacceptable.
All my memories are from home and the family process, this is a beautiful little angel.
— Kylian Mbappe (@KMbappe) June 28, 2023
Actor Omar Sy, known for his roles in the film “Untouchable” and the TV show “Lupine,” tweeted: “I hope that this child will be honored with justice worthy of the name.”
Mes pensées et prières vont à la famille et aux proches de Naël, mort à 17 ans ce matin,
You are a policeman from Nanterre.
Qu’une Justice digne de ce nom Honore la memoire de cet enfant. pic.twitter.com/mdNp6Aju80
— Omar Sy (@OmarSy) June 27, 2023
“The police are becoming like the police in America”
“What I see in this video is the French police execution of a 17-year-old in broad daylight in 2023,” Green Party leader Marine Tondelier said.
“I hear the police lie, his colleagues lie, the prosecutors lie, the media lie,” she said, adding: “You get the sense that our police are becoming like the police in America.”
Far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon said “there is no more death penalty in France” and called for a “complete redesign of the police force”.
Dammanin, who has previously supported police in similar situations, called the video “extremely shocking” in parliament.
On Wednesday, he said the officer would be suspended “if the charges against him are established.”
Meanwhile, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez described the gunman as “an experienced police officer who has the confidence of his superiors”.
In 2022, a record 13 people will die in France after refusing to stop for police traffic checks.