France erupts in protest after police kill 17-year-old during a traffic stop
The mother of killed 17-year-old Nahel, at left on truck, gestures during a march for Nahel, Thursday, June 29, 2023 in Nanterre, outside Paris. | Michel Euler / AP

PARIS—France deployed extra police in Paris and other big cities Wednesday night after protests erupted over the police killing of a 17-year-old delivery driver.

“Nahel” was killed on Tuesday during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. Footage shows two officers leaning into the driver-side window of the vehicle, with one firing in as the car pulls away, undermining police claims that they acted in self-defense because they were about to be run over.

The officer believed to have fired has been arrested and reportedly will face manslaughter charges.

Forty cars were burned overnight, garbage bins overturned, and bus stops smashed as angry locals rioted in response. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 31 people had been arrested and 25 police officers injured.

Darmanin added that 1,200 police were deployed overnight and 2,000 would be out in force Thursday in the Paris region and around other big cities to “maintain order.”

Government officials condemned the killing and sought to distance themselves from the police officer’s actions. President Emmanuel Macron said the killing was “inexplicable and inexcusable,” appealing for calm and for people to trust that the officer would be brought to justice.

Speaking to Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said, “The shocking images broadcast yesterday show an intervention that clearly appears as not complying with the rules of engagement of our police forces.”

But a lawyer for Nahel’s family, Yassine Bouzrou, said they want the officer charged with murder, not manslaughter, and the investigation handed to a different region because they don’t trust Nanterre authorities’ impartiality. The young man’s mother led a mass march to the scene of his death on Thursday.

Activists renewed calls to tackle what they see as systemic police abuse. French police shot 13 people dead during traffic stops last year, a record.

This article features reporting from Morning Star and the Associated Press.

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