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Police shooting of teenage delivery driver in Paris ‘inexcusable’, says Macron
28 June 2023, 18:24 | Updated: 30 June 2023, 06:16
The killing triggered a night of scattered violence around the French capital.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called the shooting death of a 17-year-old delivery driver by police “inexcusable” and pleaded for calm while justice takes its course.
It came after the government heightened the police presence in Paris and other big cities on Wednesday after the killing triggered a night of scattered violence.
The death of 17-year-old Nael during a traffic stop on Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre caused nationwide concern and widespread messages of indignation and condolences. French football star Kylian Mbappe tweeted: “I hurt for my France.”
Nael’s surname has not been released by authorities or by his family.
His mother called for a silent march on Thursday in his honour in the square where he was killed, while activists renewed calls to tackle what they see as systemic police abuse.
Government officials condemned the killing and sought to distance themselves from the police actions.
“Nothing justifies the death of a young person,” Mr Macron told reporters in Marseille, calling what happened “inexplicable and inexcusable”.
Videos of the incident shared online show two officers leaning into the driver’s-side window of a yellow car before the vehicle pulls away as one officer fires into the window. The car is later seen crashed into a post.
The victim was wounded by a gunshot and died at the scene, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. A passenger was briefly detained and released, and police are searching for another passenger who fled.
Anger over the killing spawned unrest in towns around Paris. Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said 31 people were arrested, 24 police officers injured and 40 cars burned in overnight unrest.
The police officer suspected of firing on Nael remains in custody and faces potential manslaughter charges, according to the Nanterre prosecutor’s office.
The Nanterre neighbourhood where Nael lived remained on edge on Wednesday, with police on guard around the regional administration and burned car wreckage and overturned bins visible in some areas.
Bouquets of orange and yellow roses were tied to the post where the car crashed after the shooting, in Nelson Mandela Square.
Speaking to parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said: “The shocking images broadcast yesterday show an intervention that clearly appears as not complying with the rules of engagement of our police forces.”
Several people have died or sustained injuries at the hands of French police in recent years, prompting demands for more accountability. France also saw protests against racial profiling and other injustice after George Floyd’s killing by police in Minnesota.
Mr Macron called for calm and for respect for Nael’s loved ones. Asked about police abuses, he said justice should be allowed to run its course.
Mr Darmanin said 1,200 police were deployed overnight and 2,000 would be out in force on Wednesday in the Paris region and around other big cities to “maintain order”.
A lawyer for Nael’s family, Yassine Bouzrou, told the Associated Press they want the police officer pursued for murder instead of manslaughter, and want the investigation handed to a different region because they fear Nanterre investigators will not be impartial.
The lawyers rejected a reported statement by the officers that they believed their lives were in danger because the driver had threatened to run them over.