Conflicts & War

Macron calls for calm amid clashes after teen shot dead in police traffic stop

(Update 1: Changes headline, reledes, adds detail throughout)

Paris, Jun 28 (EFE).- French president Emmanuel Macron expressed his solidarity Wednesday with the family of the teenager who was shot dead by a traffic police officer in the Paris suburb of Nanterre and urged citizens to remain calm after a night of violent rioting.

Speaking to reporters in the southern city of Marseille, where he is on a three-day visit, Macron said “nothing justifies the death of a young man.”

“I would like to express the emotion of the entire nation at the death of young Naël,” Macron continued.

The French president urged citizens to remain calm so that justice could run its course.

The 17-year-old, identified as Naël M, was driving a rental car in Nanterre without a permit Tuesday morning when he was stopped by a pair of officers.

In footage that has been circulating on social media, one of the officers — a 38-year-old brigadier who has since been arrested on homicide charges — can be seen pointing his gun at the teenage driver through the window while the other officer speaks to him on the same side of the car.

A shot can be heard as the car starts to accelerate before crashing to a halt.

French police arrested over 30 people overnight during riots that broke out in Nanterre and other suburbs around the French capital, police reported.

Paris authorities have deployed 2,000 police officers and gendarmes in the city after rioters set fire to around 40 vehicles, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told the BFMTV channel.

Police chief Laurent Núñez, who spoke to the same television station, added that the officers were deployed to prevent looting of shops and public spaces and that the operation would last “as long as necessary.”

Núñez acknowledged that Paris authorities were bracing for riots after the footage of the incident started to circulate online.

Darmanin described the images as “extremely shocking” and said two criminal investigations had been launched, one relating to the alleged homicide by the police officer and another into Naël M’s attempts to flee a police traffic stop.

The teenager’s family’s lawyer Jennifer Cambla told France Info radio station that they were filing a complaint against the police officers for lying in their initial statement when they claimed the weapon was fired because the car was trying to run them over.

“The policeman’s gesture is absolutely illegitimate and absolutely not part of self-defense, since it is clear that the policeman was near a stationary vehicle,” the lawyer said. “Feeling threatened doesn’t justify shooting a bullet in someone’s chest.”

The incident has sparked the anger of many members of the opposition with left-wing leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon saying “no officer has the right to kill unless in self-defense.”

“This uncontrolled police force discredits the authority of the state. It needs to be completely overhauled,” he said on Twitter.

French soccer star Kylian Mbappé also took to the social media platform to denounce the killing.

“I feel bad for my France. An unacceptable situation. All my thoughts go out to Naël’s family and loved ones, this little angel who left far too soon,” the soccer player said. EFE


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