A deadly police shot at a 17-year-old caused outrage in France: Excessive police violence was criticized in view of the video recordings. There were riots in Paris suburbs, cars burned.
In the Paris suburb of Nanterre, serious riots broke out after a fatal police shot at a 17-year-old driver at a police checkpoint. Garbage cans, cars and an elementary school were set on fire by angry people and large quantities of exploding fireworks were thrown at emergency services, French media such as the newspaper “Le Figaro” reported, citing the authorities. Barricades were erected between high-rise buildings and firefighters were hindered in their operations.
The riots, which began on Tuesday evening with a demonstration in front of the Nanterre police station, spread to neighboring towns during the night. A town hall was set on fire in Mantes-la-Jolie. The police used tear gas and rubber bullets but had to retreat in the face of the massive attacks. According to authorities, 15 people were arrested.
Arrested on suspicion of manslaughter
The Nanterre Public Prosecutor’s Office said the incident happened during a traffic check on Tuesday morning. A police motorcycle patrol stopped the car that was carrying three people.
The teenager died on the spot from the police shot. His passenger was arrested but released a short time later. The police are looking for another car occupant who fled. According to the prosecutor’s office, the officer who fired the shot was taken into police custody on suspicion of manslaughter.
Video contradicts police account
Lawyers for the 17-year-old’s family have dismissed reports of a police statement that officials feared for their lives after the driver threatened to run them over. In addition, the legal team led a video that is supposed to show the traffic control that got out of hand and is circulating on the Internet.
The broadcaster France Info authenticated the video. It shows an officer pointing his gun at the level of the driver’s door at a stationary car. The area in front of the car was clear. When the driver suddenly drove off, the officer fired at the driver at close range. Shortly thereafter, the car crashed into a pole.
According to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, after the death of the young driver, the police authorities began investigations to clarify the incident.
Debate about excessive police violence
The deadly police operation triggered outrage in France, and in view of the video recordings there is talk of excessive police violence. The 17-year-old is said to have been known to the police for previous traffic offenses and was also stopped for such an offense this time, France Info reported.
This is one of the reasons why the most recent death in a police operation triggered a heated political debate. “The death penalty no longer exists in France. No police officer has the right to kill unless it is in self-defence,” tweeted left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The police bring the authority of the state into disrepute and must be reformed from the ground up.