France sees third night of violence amid protests over fatal police shooting of teen

A French police officer was charged with voluntary homicide and placed under arrest on Thursday ahead of trial over the killing of a teenager at point-blank range, an incident that sparked nationwide protests. Thousands gathered to honour the victim in his Paris-area neighbourhood, and clashes erupted between some protesters and police, with officers using tear gas. French authorities were expecting more protests in the nights to come. Read our liveblog to see how the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2). 

  • The 17-year-old victim, identified only as Nahel M., was shot at point-blank range by a police officer on Tuesday morning in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. He was driving a yellow Mercedes when he was pulled over for traffic violations.
  • Police initially reported that he was shot after driving his car at police, but this was contradicted by a video that rapidly went viral across social media and was later authenticated by AFP. The footage shows the two policemen standing by the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver. A voice is heard saying, “You are going to get a bullet in the head.” The police officer then appears to fire as the car abruptly drives off before gradually coming to a stop. 
  • The incident has sparked three nights of violent unrest in the capital and cities across France that have seen protesters clash with police.
  • France’s interior minister said 40,000 police officers were to be deployed on Thursday night to quell further outbreaks of violence.
  • A silent march took place in Nanterre on Thursday to honour Nahel M. Police clashed with some protesters alongside the event.

This live blog is no longer being updated.

French police stand in position as fireworks go off during clashes with youth following the death of Nahel M., a 17-year-old boy killed by a police officer during a traffic stop, in Nanterre, a Paris suburb, on June 30, 2023. © Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuters

4:05am: 421 people arrested nationwide, according to Le Figaro

According to Le Figaro newspaper, there have been so far 421 arrests nationwide, more than half of them in the Paris region with the majority between 14 and 18 years old.


3:10am: France engulfed in a third night of riots with unrest across major cities including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Lille.

Forty thousand police officers were deployed across France  – nearly four times the number mobilised on Wednesday  – but there were few signs that government appeals to de-escalate the violence would quell the widespread anger.

In Nanterre, the working-class town on the western outskirts of Paris where 17-year-old Nahel M. was shot dead on Tuesday, protesters torched cars, barricaded streets and hurled projectiles at police following a peaceful vigil. Protesters scrawled “Vengeance for Nahel” across buildings and as night set a bank was lit on fire before firefighters put it out and an elite police unit deployed an armoured vehicle.

In central Paris, a Nike shoe store was broken into, 14 people were arrested, and 16 more were arrested with stolen objects after store windows were smashed along the rue de Rivoli shopping street, Paris police said.

National police said on Thursday night that officers faced new incidents in Marseille, Lyon, Pau, Toulouse and Lille, including fires and fireworks.

Videos on social media showed numerous fires across the country, including at a bus depot in a suburb north of Paris and a tram in the eastern city of Lyon.

In Marseille, France’s second city, police fired tear gas grenades during clashes with youths in the tourist hotspot of Le Vieux Port, the city’s main paper La Provence reported.

A vehicle burns during clashes between protesters and police following the death of Nahel M., a 17-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a French police officer during a traffic stop, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on June 29, 2023.
A vehicle burns during clashes between protesters and police following the death of Nahel M., a 17-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a French police officer during a traffic stop, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on June 29, 2023. © Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuters

1:40am: Mayor of central Paris reacts to violent protests

“It’s time for everyone to calm down. And for justice to do its necessary job,” wrote the mayor of central Paris, Ariel Weil, on Twitter. Weil shared images of a Nike shop in Châtelet Les Halles being vandalised, where several groups of people were present during the night.

1:10am: Firefighters tell Parisians to call only if there’s an emergency while they respond to protests

12:40am: More than 100 people have been arrested so far, says interior minister

More than 100 people have been arrested across France as unrest continues for a third night, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

He expressed support for “our police officers, gendarmes and firefighters who are doing a brave job”.

12:00am: Mother of French teen fatally shot by police says officer ‘saw an Arab face’

The mother of a French teenager whose killing by a police officer has sparked riots said Thursday she thought the death was racially motivated but she did not bear a grudge against the force as a whole.

“I don’t blame the police, I blame one person: the one who took the life of my son,” Mounia told the France 5 channel in her first media interview since the shooting on Tuesday morning.

“I have friends who are officers. They are completely behind me … they don’t agree with what happened,” she said.

She said the 38-year-old officer, who has since been charged with voluntary homicide, had other ways of controlling her son, who was at the wheel of a yellow Mercedes without a licence.

“He didn’t need to kill my son. A bullet? So close to his chest? No, no,” the single mother, described as a worker in the medical sector, told the channel in tears.

The officer “saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life”, she said.

“How long is this going to go on for? How many other children are going to go like this? How many mothers will find themselves like me?” she added.

Mounia led a march through the suburb of Nanterre, west of Paris, where she lived with her son on Thursday that ended with protesters clashing with police.

11:30pm: Police officer who fatally shot teen apologises to victim’s family while in custody, lawyer says

The policeman who killed a French teenager in a Paris suburb on Tuesday, sparking violent protests across the country, has apologised to the family while in custody, his lawyer said.

“The first words he pronounced were to say sorry and the last words he said were to say sorry to the family,” Laurent-Franck Lienard told BFMTV late Thursday.

“He is devastated, he doesn’t get up in the morning to kill people,” Lienard said. “He didn’t want to kill him.”

Lienard said the policeman was “extremely shocked by the violence of this video”.

The officer has been charged with voluntary homicide and remanded in custody.

Lienard said he would on Friday appeal his client being placed in custody.

10:04pm: France deploys counter-terrorism unit in Nanterre

Uniformed members of the French Research and Intervention Brigade, a counter-terrorism police unit also known as BRI, are shown in the Twitter image below at the site of the ongoing protests in Nanterre. 

The unit appears to be heavily equipped and have armoured vehicules.

9:11pm: Tensions in Paris expected to rise at nightfall 

As protests against the death of Nahel continue in Nanterre, police forces fear that violence may overspill into the bordering major business district La Défense.

Despite a current lull, tensions are expected to rise again at nightfall. 

FRANCE 24 reporter Claire Paccalin reports:


8:56pm: Youths clash with police in Marseille

Youths clashed with police in Marseille on Thursday evening, reported the city’s main paper La Provence, as public anger over the police shooting of a 17-year old near Paris earlier this week risked spreading across the country.

La Provence reported police had fired tear gas grenades and that Marseille’s tourist hot-spot of Le Vieux Port had been evacuated.

8:48pm: French authorities expect more protests, says police source

French authorities are ready for ever more violent night protests over the fatal shooting of a teenager by a policeman, according to an internal security note on Thursday, a police source said.

The source referred to an internal document indicating that the “coming nights” were expected “to be the theatre of urban violence” with “actions targeted at the forces of order and the symbols of the state”, the source said.

6:15pm: Paris suburb imposes curfew until Monday

A Paris suburb of 54,000 people has been put on curfew through the weekend, in response to rioting triggered by the deadly police shooting of a local teenager. 

Clamart, in the French capital’s southwest suburbs, announced the extraordinary measure on Thursday in a statement on its website. 

It said the overnight curfew would start at 9pm and last until 6am – from Thursday night through to Monday. 

It cited “the risk of new public order disturbances” for the decision, after two nights of urban unrest. “Clamart is a safe and calm town, we are determined that it stay that way,” the local government said in a statement.

6:07pm: Police officers injured and cars set on fire in Paris suburb

Several police officers appeared to be injured during clashes with protesters on Thursday afternoon as thousands in Nanterre expresse their fury.

Meanwhile, videos of cars set on fire in the Paris suburb circulated on social media [see below].  


5:45pm: Protesters clash with police forces in Paris suburb

Clashes with riot police escalated on the sidelines of a march held by the family and loved ones on Thursday in tribute to 17-year-old Nahel shot dead by a police officer earlier this week in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

FRANCE 24 reporter Clovis Casali reports from Nanterre:

5:34pm: French policeman charged and placed under arrest over teen’s killing

A French policeman has been charged and remanded in custody ahead of trial over the killing of a teenager at point blank range which sparked nationwide protests, prosecutors said Thursday.

The investigating magistrate has charged the policeman with voluntary homicide and placed him in provisional detention over Tuesday’s incident, the regional prosecutors said in a statement.

4:53pm: Public transport services to be halted after 9pm Thursday

Bus and tram services in and around Paris will be halted after 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) Thursday amid expected protests over the police killing of a teenager, the region’s president said.

After several trams and buses were targeted at Wednesday’s protests sparked by the 17-year-old’s unlawful death, the decision was made “to ensure the protection of staff and passengers,” Valerie Pecresse said on Twitter.

4:22pm: Police fire tear gas at over 6,000 who joined family to honour  teen

French police on Thursday fired tear gas at protesters who were staging a march outside Paris to remember a teen killed at point-blank range by an officer earlier in the week, an AFP correspondent said.

Some protesters began throwing projectiles at the police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, and security forces then dispersed the protest by firing tear gas. Some 6,200 people were present at the protest, according to a police source, who asked not to be named.

3:23pm: Protesters call for ‘justice  for Nahel’ as silent march goes underway

Led by the victim’s mother, hundreds of people marched in Nanterre to honour the life of 17-year-old Nahel M. Protesters, including friends and relatives of the young man, chanted “justice for Nahel” as they took to the streets.

FRANCE 24 reporter Clovis Casali reports from Nanterre:

2:01pm: ‘White March’ gets under way in tribute to Nahel M.

A “White March”, or silent march in hommage to Nahel M. set off Thursday at 2pm from the Pablo Picasso subsidised housing estate in Nanterre to cries of “Justice for Nahel” and “Never again”.

The victim’s mother, perched on a van and wearing a “Justice for Nahel” T-shirt, led the demonstration followed by hundreds of participants gathered behind a banner bearing the same slogan.


1:38pm: 40,000 police to be deployed Thursday night

Some 40,000 police officers will be deployed overnight to quell violence that engulfed cities and towns in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Nahel M., including 5,000 in the Paris region on Thursday evening, the interior ministry has said.

“There will be a lot more police and gendarmes present tonight,” said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.


12:27pm: Nanterre prosecutor says officer who shot Nahel detained on charges of intentional homicide

The Nanterre prosecutor announced Thursday morning that the police officer who fatally shot Nahel M. would be detained on charges of intentional homicide. 

“Thats what people here in Nanterre were expecting and were hoping for,” said FRANCE 24’s Clovis Casali, reporting from the southwestern Paris suburb.



11:18am: Nanterre prosecutor gives timeline of events that led to fatal shooting

The Nanterre prosecutor said that witness statements, CCTV video footage, amateur video footage, and statements from police offers were being used to piece together the timeline of events from Tuesday morning.

He confirmed that two motorcycle police noticed a Mercedes with a Polish license plate, one young driver and two passengers travelling quickly in a bus lane at 7:55am.

Police twice attempted to indicate to the car to pull over and park, but the driver continued driving and the two police pursued the vehicle. Video footage shows the Mercedes committing several traffic violations during the pursuit.

The Mercedes had to halt at a stop light in La Defence, at which point the police asked the driver to turn off the engine and exit the vehicle.

The police officers said they drew their weapons and aimed them at the driver to dissuade him from driving off. However, the driver did pull away at which point the police decided to shoot.

A bullet hit the driver through arm and chest, and the car crashed. One of the passengers fled. Firefighters were called to the scene at 8:21am. They provided first aid to the driver which was unsuccessful.

The second passenger in the Mercedes was taken into custody but released on Tuesday afternoon. Police are still looking for the passenger who fled.

A search of the vehicle found no drugs or dangerous products.

11:15am: Nanterre prosecutor says police use of firearms against teen driver was ‘not justified’

Nanterre Prosecutor Pascal Prache, who is leading the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Nahel M., said that initial investigations found that the officer’s use of his firearm was not justified.

Consequently, the charges against the officer were updated from involuntary to intentional homicide. Prache also recommended the officer be kept in detention.

He said the legal process had “just begun” and evidence was also being gathered to investigate a charge against Nahel M. for his refusal to cooperate with police.

“The purpose of these two investigations is to look at all the circumstances objectively that led to the death of this young driver,” the prosecutor said.

The horrific shooting has rocked France, with people across the country speaking out in solidarity with his family.

Many are echoing the thoughts of famed French footballer Kylian Mbappé, who says this is “unacceptable”. He added ““I hurt for my France. Unacceptable situation. All my thoughts go to the family and loved ones of Naël, this little angel gone much too soon.” [below]    


(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters and AP)


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