France is preparing for more protests following the death of a teenager at the hands of the police during a traffic stop.
President Emmanuel Macron described the incident as “unforgivable.” In response to potential unrest, the government announced the deployment of 2,000 riot police.
The 17-year-old was shot in the chest by a police officer, who then appeared to provide false information about the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
The incident had already caused disturbances in several Paris suburbs. Prominent figures and politicians expressed anger and sorrow over the teenager’s death, with Macron deeming it “inexplicable” and “unforgivable.”
The teenager, identified as Nael M., was pulled over by two police officers for violating traffic rules. Initially, the police claimed that the officer shot at the teenager because he was driving towards him.
However, a video circulating on social media, verified by AFP, contradicts this version of events. The footage shows the two policemen standing next to the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver, while a voice threatens the teenager.
The police officer then appears to shoot at close range as the car abruptly drives away. The vehicle traveled a short distance before crashing, and the driver died shortly after.
The teenager’s death prompted immediate protests in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, with incidents of arson and clashes with the police.
Protests later spread to neighboring suburbs. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin reported that 31 people were arrested overnight, 24 police officers sustained minor injuries, and around 40 cars were set on fire.
To address further potential violence, the government plans to deploy 2,000 police officers.
During the weekly cabinet meeting, Macron expressed his “emotion” regarding the shooting and called for calm on behalf of the government.
He denounced the death of a young person as unjustifiable, stating that the incident had deeply affected the entire nation.
Macron, who was on an official visit to Marseille, also expressed his “respect and affection” for the victim’s family.
The 38-year-old police officer responsible for the fatal shot was taken into custody and is under investigation for voluntary manslaughter.
Nael M.’s lawyer intends to file additional legal complaints against the officer for voluntary manslaughter and against his colleague for complicity in the shooting.
The lawyer also plans to file a separate complaint for false testimony against the police officers for alleging that Nael M. had attempted to run them over.
Two passengers were in the car at the time of the incident. One fled the scene, while the other, also a teenager, was briefly detained.
Nael M.’s mother posted a video on TikTok, calling for a march to honor her son on Thursday, stating that it was a protest in his memory.