Protests erupt after teenager shot dead in Paris suburb of Nanterre after allegedly refusing to stop car for police.
Clashes have broken out between demonstrators and police following public outrage over the shooting death of a 17-year-old in the Paris suburb of Nanterre after the youth allegedly failed to comply with a police order to stop his car.
The teenager was driving in a rental car in the western Paris suburb early on Tuesday when police pulled him over for breaking several road rules, prosecutors said.
A video circulating on social media, authenticated by the French news agency AFP, shows two police officers trying to stop the vehicle, with one pointing his weapon at the driver through the window and firing at close range when the youth apparently continues to drive. The car moved a few dozen metres before crashing.
Emergency services tried to resuscitate the teenager at the scene but he died shortly afterwards.
Local residents held a protest outside police headquarters. Tensions soared later on Tuesday between police and demonstrators who lit fires, set a car alight, destroyed bus stops and threw firecrackers towards police who responded with tear gas and dispersion grenades, according to videos broadcast on local media.
Nine people were arrested in the confrontations, authorities said.
Local media outlets featured video footage shared on social media of youths clashing with police late into the evening, including a clip that appeared to show protests also in the heart of Paris – located about 11km (almost 7 miles) from the restive suburb.
The officer accused of firing on the driver has been arrested on homicide charges, the Nanterre prosecutors office said.
France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told parliament the two police officers involved were being questioned and acknowledged that the images posted on social media were “extremely shocking”.
A team of three lawyers for the driver identified the 17-year-old victim as Nael M.
In a statement, the lawyers rejected a reported statement by the police that officers’ lives were in danger because the driver had threatened to run them over.
Yassine Bouzrou, a lawyer for the family, told local media that while all parties needed to wait for the result of the investigation, the images “clearly showed a policeman killing a young man in cold blood”.
“This is a long way from any kind of legitimate defence,” he said, adding the family had filed a complaint accusing the police of “lying” by initially claiming the car had tried to run down the officers.
After a record 13 deaths from police shootings in France during traffic stops last year, this is the second fatal shooting in such circumstances in 2023. Three people were killed by police shooting after refusing to comply with a traffic stop in 2021 and two in 2020.
A Reuters news agency tally of fatal shootings in 2021 and 2022 shows the majority of victims of police shootings were Black or of Arabic origin.
“As a mother from Nanterre, I have a feeling of insecurity for our children,” said Mornia Labssi, a local resident and anti-racism campaigner, who said she had spoken to the victim’s family, which she said was of Algerian origin.