Teenager's death during police traffic stop sparks violent unrest in Paris suburb

A 17-year-old boy was shot and killed by police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

June 28, 2023, 6:34 AM

PARIS and LONDON -- French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called for "calm" on Wednesday after a night of violent protests over a teenager's death at the hands of police in a Paris suburb.

"We want to have the whole truth about what happened, while respecting the time of justice," Darmanin said during a press conference.

A 17-year-old driver was shot and killed by a police officer on Tuesday morning during a traffic check in Nanterre, a suburb of France's capital. The officer remains detained on suspicion of manslaughter amid an ongoing investigation into the incident, according to the local prosecutor's office.

Firefighters work to put out a burning car on the sidelines of a protest in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, France, on June 27, 2023, after police shot and killed a 17-year-old driver during a traffic check.
Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP via Getty Images

France's Inspectorate General of the National Police, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, is also conducting a probe into the fatal shooting.

Lawyers for the victim's family identified him as 17-year-old Nahel M. and said they intend to file complaints against the officer who fired the lethal shot and another officer who was at the scene. Nahel's mother took to social media calling for people to join her at a march in Nanterre on Thursday, saying: "Please, let's revolt for my son."

The teen's death sparked unrest in the streets of Nanterre and other areas outside Paris on Tuesday night. Protesters clashed with riot police as dozens of vehicles and buildings were set ablaze. While tensions were highest in Nanterre, a town hall was set on fire in Mantes-la-Jolie, about 25 miles northwest.

Police in riot gear stand next to a fire burning in the street after a protest in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, France, on June 27, 2023.
Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP via Getty Images

Overall, 31 people were arrested, 25 police officers were injured and 40 cars were burned, according to Darmanin, who condemned the violence and announced heightened police presence. The interior minister said 1,200 officers were deployed overnight and 2,000 would be in the Paris region and around other big cities on Wednesday to "maintain order."

Darmanin said video purported to be of the incident circulating online was "extremely shocking" and "apparently not in line with what we want in policing."

"If the images are confirmed," he added, "at no time is a gesture like the one we saw justified."

French President Emmanuel Macron also addressed the teen's death and ensuing protests, telling reporters on Wednesday that "it takes calm for justice to be done."

"I want to express the emotion of the entire nation after what happened and express my solidarity with his family," Macron said. "Nothing justifies the death of a young person."

Related Topics