Riots rock Paris suburbs after police shoot dead teenage driver

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The Local France/AFP - [email protected]
Riots rock Paris suburbs after police shoot dead teenage driver
A vehicle burns, destroyed by protesters in Nanterre, west of Paris, on June 27, 2023, after French police killed a teenager who refused to stop for a traffic check in the city. Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP

Several Paris suburbs saw rioting on Tuesday night after a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed by police after reportedly refusing to stop for a traffic check.


The 17-year-old was driving in a rental car in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre early on Tuesday when police pulled him over for breaking several road rules, prosecutors said.

A video circulating on social media, authenticated by AFP, shows two police officers trying to stop the vehicle, with one pointing his weapon at the driver through the window and firing at point blank when he drives off.

The two male officers are shown standing by the side of the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver. A voice is heard saying "You are going to get a bullet in the head."


The car moved a few dozen metres before crashing.

Later on Tuesday evening, protesters in Nanterre lit fires, set cars alight, and destroyed bus stops as tensions soared between police and locals.



Many of the most serious clashes centred on the Pablo Picasso cité (housing complex).


The trouble spread to other nearby suburbs including Clichy-sous-Bois, Mantes-la-Jolie, Asnières and Colombes overnight.


Cars, bins and barricades were set alight, fireworks were fired at police and street furniture smashed.

Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said that 42 cars had been burned and 24 police officers injured, none seriously.

In total 24 people were arrested, mostly in Nanterre. 

Nunez admitted in an interview with BFM television that the action of the police officer "raises questions", though he said it was possible the officer felt threatened.

The driver has been named locally as Naël, a French teenager of Algerian origin.


The family's lawyer Yassine Bouzrou told the same channel that while all parties needed to wait for the result of the investigation, the images "clearly showed a policeman killing a young man in cold blood".

"This is a long way from any kind of legitimate defence" he said, adding the family had filed a complaint accusing the police of "lying" by initially claiming the car had tried to run down the officers.

French celebrities including footballer Kylian Mbappé and actor Omar Sy have paid tribute to Naël, and called for investigations into the actions of the police. 

The case is the latest in a series of incidents in which young men, often people of colour, have died at the hands of police.

Previous cases have also sparked unrest in the more deprived suburbs of Paris. 


In 2022, a record 13 deaths were recorded after refusals to stop for traffic controls. Five police officers have been charged in these cases.

Authorities and police unions blame the 2022 figures on more dangerous driving behaviour, but researchers also point to a 2017 law modifying the conditions of the use of their weapon by the police.

Two weeks ago, a 19-year-old was killed by a police officer he had injured in the legs with his car in the western town of Angouleme.

The interior ministry has announced that 2,000 officers will be on duty in the Paris suburbs on Wednesday night, in order to try and quell further flare-ups. 


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