Violent protests rocked the western suburbs of Paris on Wednesday night after police shot and killed a teenager in a traffic jam and then appeared to lie about the circumstances of the killing. A police officer has been detained and is being investigated for manslaughter.
The 17-year-old driver, Nael M., was pulled over by two police officers on 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 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.”
Police appeared to shoot at the driver at close range, and the car swerved away, traveling tens of meters forward before crashing.
The driver died shortly after.
The 38-year-old police officer, who was witnessed in the fatal shooting, has been taken into custody and is being investigated for manslaughter.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday the shootings were “unexplainable” and “inexcusable”.
“Nothing can justify the death of a young man,” Macron said on the third day of his visit to Marseille.
Macron said the incident “moved the whole country”“.
Nail M.’s attorney, Yassine Bouzrou, said he would pursue legal action against the officer for manslaughter and for his co-worker’s conspiracy in the shooting.
Buzrou also said he would file a complaint against the police, accusing them of giving false testimony that Nar M. tried to run them over.
There were two occupants in the vehicle when the shooting occurred. One of them escaped and the other, also a teenager, was briefly detained.
Protest broke out
News of the incident sparked protests in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre. Dumpsters were set ablaze, a music school was on fire and police tried to disperse protesters with tear gas. Protests then spread to 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.
Celebrities and politicians expressed concern and outrage over the shooting.
“I’m hurt for my France,” Kylian Mbappe, captain of the French men’s national football team and star player of 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
Far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for a “total redesign of the police force” and warned against police behaviour, saying there was “no more capital punishment” in France.
Damanin – who has supported the police in similar situations – The council described the video as “extremely shocking”.
He said on Wednesday that the officer would be suspended “if the charges against him are established.”
He also announced that 2,000 police officers would be deployed in response to further violence later in the day.
(AFP France 24 hours news)