France to deploy 40,000 police officers to suppress violence following fatal police shooting

by Michael Nguyen
police shooting

Officials announced on Thursday that a French police officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old driver will be investigated for voluntary homicide, after two days of fires and violent protests that left numerous officers injured.

In response to the widespread violence that ensued following the shooting, approximately 40,000 police officers will be deployed overnight to restore peace in affected cities and towns.

The incident, captured on video, in which 17-year-old Nahel was killed during a traffic check on Tuesday, has deeply shocked the nation and reignited longstanding tensions between young people and the police in disadvantaged neighborhoods and housing projects throughout France.

Further details on the protests:

  • Tensions escalated in a Paris suburb after the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old delivery driver.
  • Prominent figures like Mbappé and members of the French national team criticized the police for the teenager’s killing.
  • Clashes between French police and protesters erupted following President Macron’s condemnation of the police shooting.

Protesters set cars and public buildings on fire in the suburbs of Paris, and unrest spread to other cities and towns in France.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stated, “The troublemakers must leave. We will have a substantial presence of police and gendarmes tonight.”

Darmanin reported that 170 officers had been injured during the unrest, but none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache requested the detention of the officer involved, pending a decision by another magistrate. Prache’s preliminary investigation concluded that the officer did not meet the conditions justifying the use of lethal force.

According to Prache, three individuals were in the car when the police attempted to stop it on Tuesday. Nahel managed to evade the traffic stop by running a red light but later got caught in a traffic jam.

Both officers involved claimed they drew their guns to prevent Nahel from restarting the car.

The officer who fired a single shot stated that his intention was to prevent the car from leaving and because he feared that someone, including himself or his colleague, might be hit by the vehicle, as reported by Prache.

Both officers stated that they felt “threatened” when they saw the car driving away, Prache added.

Two magistrates have been assigned to lead the investigation, following the French legal system’s practice of assigning magistrates to such roles.

In a separate case, a police officer who fatally shot a 19-year-old Guinean man earlier this month in western France is facing preliminary charges of voluntary homicide, as stated by the local prosecutor on Wednesday. The man was shot by an officer as he allegedly tried to flee a traffic stop. The investigation into this incident is still ongoing.

Clashes initially erupted on Tuesday night in Nanterre, the Paris suburb where Nahel was killed. The government deployed 2,000 police officers on Wednesday to maintain order, but violence resumed after nightfall.

Nahel’s family has not disclosed his surname, and earlier statements from their lawyers spelled the name as Nael.

Police and firefighters faced difficulties in controlling the protesters and extinguishing multiple fires throughout the night, which caused damage to schools, police stations, town halls, and other public buildings, according to a spokesperson for the national police. The national police reported fires and skirmishes in several cities overnight, from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north, although the primary focus of the tensions remained in Nanterre and other Paris suburbs.

Around the country, police arrested 150 individuals, with over half of the arrests taking place in the Paris region. The spokesperson, who requested anonymity due to police rules, was not authorized to disclose the number of injured individuals.

The scenes of violence in France’s suburban areas are reminiscent of the riots that occurred in 2005 after the deaths of 15-year-old Bouna Traoré and 17-year-old Zyed Benna, which exposed anger and resentment in neglected, crime-ridden housing projects.

French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency security meeting on Thursday to address the violence. He condemned the acts as “totally unjustifiable” and called for calm, emphasizing the need for “remembrance and respect.” Nahel’s mother called for a silent march on Thursday in honor of her son at the location where he was killed.

In Nanterre, multiple vehicles were set ablaze, and protesters launched fireworks and threw stones at the police, who responded with tear gas. A building caught fire, with flames spreading through three stories, while an electrical plant also reported a blaze. The town hall of L’Ile-Saint-Denis, near France’s national stadium and the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics, suffered fire damage.

The police officer accused of the killing is currently in custody on suspicion of manslaughter and may face preliminary charges as early as Thursday, according to the Nanterre prosecutor’s office.

French activists have renewed their calls to address what they perceive as systemic police abuse, particularly in neighborhoods like the one Nahel resided in, where residents often face poverty, racial discrimination, and class disparities. Government officials have condemned the killing and sought to distance themselves from the actions of the police officer.

Macron described the killing as “inexplicable and inexcusable” and stressed the importance of allowing justice to take its course. When questioned about police abuses, he emphasized the need for accountability.

Yassine Bouzrou, a lawyer representing Nahel’s family, stated that they want the police officer to be prosecuted for murder rather than manslaughter.

Renowned French soccer player Kylian Mbappé, who grew up in the Paris suburb of Bondy, expressed his distress over the incident, stating, “I hurt for my France.”

Reporting from Paris by Corbet. Contributions by Oleg Cetinic and Christophe Ena in Nanterre, and Angela Charlton in Paris.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about police shooting

What is the reason behind deploying 40,000 police officers in France?

The deployment of 40,000 police officers in France is in response to the violent protests that followed a deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old driver. The aim is to maintain public order and quell the unrest that has spread across cities and towns in the country.

What led to the protests in France?

The protests in France were sparked by the shooting and killing of a 17-year-old driver during a traffic check. The incident, captured on video, shocked the nation and highlighted long-standing tensions between young people and the police, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods and housing projects.

How many officers were injured during the protests?

According to the Interior Minister, 170 officers were injured during the unrest. Fortunately, none of the injuries were life-threatening.

What actions are being taken regarding the police officer involved in the shooting?

The police officer who shot and killed the 17-year-old driver is under investigation for voluntary homicide. The officer is currently in custody, and the decision on whether to bring preliminary charges will be made by a magistrate.

Is this the first incident of police shooting in France?

No, there have been previous incidents in recent years where individuals have died or been injured at the hands of French police. These incidents have led to calls for greater police accountability and addressing issues of police abuse. The recent shooting has reignited discussions about police conduct and the need for justice and accountability in such cases.

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David23 June 29, 2023 - 2:19 pm

dis police officer should b punished! shooting a teenager, no excuse for dat. protests r right, demand justice!

Mike87 June 29, 2023 - 7:30 pm

police need better training, dis is not da first time dey mess up. more accountability & justice 4 victims!

Emma82 June 29, 2023 - 10:03 pm

i cant believe dis happened again, it’s like a cycle of violence. young ppl & police always clash. dey shud sort dis mess out!

John Smith June 29, 2023 - 11:01 pm

omg, dis is so sad, police shooting, violence & protest. france in big trouble! need more police 2 handle dis.

LilyRose June 30, 2023 - 12:18 am

france facing unrest, tensions everywhere. violence solves nothing, dey shud find peaceful solution. hope things calm down soon.


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