France to deploy 40K officers to quell violence after police shooting

The killing of a 17-year-old during a traffic stop has reignited tensions between young people and police in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Posted at 8:48 AM, Jun 29, 2023

A French police officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old driver will be investigated for voluntary homicide, following two days of fires and violent protests that injured scores of officers, officials said Thursday.

Some 40,000 police officers will be deployed overnight to quell violence that engulfed cities and towns in the wake of the shooting.

The killing of 17-year-old Nahel, whose full name was not released, during a traffic check Tuesday that was captured on video shocked the country and stirred up long-simmering tensions between young people and police in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighborhoods around France.

Protesters set cars and public buildings ablaze in Paris suburbs and unrest spread to some other French cities and towns.

A charred vehicle on a street in France

Unrest in France after 17-year-old delivery driver killed by police

The death unleashed tensions between angry residents setting barricades on fire and police firing tear gas.


"The professionals of disorder must go home," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. "There will be a lot more police and gendarmes present tonight."

Darmanin said 170 officers had been injured in the unrest but none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache said that he had requested that the officer be held in custody. That decision is to be made by another magistrate.

Based on an initial investigation, Prache said, he concluded that "the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met."

Three persons were in the car when police tried to stop it Tuesday, the prosecutor said. Nahel managed to avoid a traffic stop by running a red light. He was later got stuck in a traffic jam.

Both officers involved said they drew their guns to prevent him from starting the car again.

The officer who fired a single shot said he wanted to prevent the car from leaving and because he feared someone may be hit by the car, including himself or his colleague, according to Prache.

Both officers said they felt "threatened" by seeing the car drive off, he added.

Two magistrates have been named to lead the investigation, Prache said. Under the French legal system, which differs from the U.S. and British systems, magistrates are often assigned to lead investigations.

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