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Violence rocks Paris for third night over teen’s killing as police arrest nearly 700 people

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

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 30 June 2023 07:50 BST
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Riots breakout in Paris after teen fatally shot by police officer

At least 667 people across France were arrested till Friday as Paris and other parts of the country burned for the third consecutive night over the killing of a 17-year-old boy.

Riots broke out in and around the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where the teen of North African descent, identified as Nahel M, 17, was shot during a traffic check.

Police and firefighters struggled to contain protesters and extinguish numerous blazes that damaged schools, police stations and town halls or other public buildings, the national police said.

The police officer accused of shooting the teenager reportedly sought forgiveness from the boy’s family, his lawyer has said.

Laurent-Franck Lienard told BFMTV: "The first words he pronounced were to say sorry and the last words he said were to say sorry to the family.

"He is devastated, he doesn't get up in the morning to kill people. He didn't want to kill him."

Mr Lienard said the officer had aimed down towards the driver’s leg but was bumped, which caused him to shoot towards his chest. “He had to be stopped, but obviously [the officer] didn’t want to kill the driver,” he said.

The lawyer added that his client’s detention was being used to try to calm rioters.

The officer was handed a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide after prosecutor Pascal Prache said his initial investigation led him to conclude "the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met".

The prosecutor said Nahel died from a single shot through his left arm and chest while driving off after being stopped by police. The officer alleged that he opened fire as he feared that he and his colleague or someone else could be hit by the car.

A car burns during protests sparked by the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old driver (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Mr Prache confirmed that two motorcycle police noticed a Mercedes, with one young driver and two passengers travelling quickly in a bus lane at 7:55am on Tuesday. 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.

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

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

Protesters clash with riot police in Nanterre, near Paris (EPA)

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 shooting, which was caught on video, triggered clashes between police and young people in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The teenager’s family and their lawyers have not said the police shooting was race-related and they did not release his surname or details about him.

French president Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to hold an emergency government meeting later on Friday.

Riot police officers charge youths during a demonstration (AP)

“These acts are totally unjustifiable,” Mr Macron said at the beginning of Thursday’s emergency security meeting, which aimed at securing hot spots and planning for the coming days “so full peace can return”.

Vehicles were set on fire in Toulouse and a tramway train was torched in a suburb of Lyon, police said.

Bus and tram services in the Paris area were shut down before sunset as a precaution to safeguard transportation workers and passengers.

Mother of teenager fatally shot by French police shares last words she exchanged with son

A similar curfew was announced in Neuilly-sur-Marne.

The unrest reportedly extended even to Brussels, the EU administrative home and Belgian capital city, where about a dozen people were detained during scuffles.

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