A French police officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old driver after two days of fires and violent protests will be investigated for spontaneous murder, prosecutors said Thursday.
Demonstrators set fire to cars and public buildings overnight on the outskirts of Paris, and unrest spread to other French cities and towns despite increased security and calls for calm by the president.
The videotaped killing of 17-year-old Neher during a traffic check on Tuesday shocked the country and sparked long-simmering tensions between youth and police in housing projects and other disadvantaged areas across France. rice field.
France’s interior minister announced on Thursday that 40,000 police officers would be dispatched overnight to quell the violence that has engulfed cities and towns following a police shooting.
Ministers said dozens of police officers were injured. Justice Minister Eric Dupont Moretti released figures that 130 police officers were injured.
“All this must stop,” declared the minister. He did not provide details on the type or severity of injuries.
Interior Minister Gerard Dalmanin, who oversees the police, later announced a higher figure of 170 injured. It is said that there is no special clause in life.
Nehel’s last name has not been released by the authorities or her family. In an earlier statement, the family’s attorney spelled the name as Nael.
Nanterre public prosecutor Pascal Plache said the initial investigation concluded that “the conditions for the legal use of weapons have not been met”.
Two judges have been appointed to lead the investigation, he said. In France’s legal system, which differs from that in the United States and Britain, magistrates often lead investigations.
Pratche said he requested the detention of police officers. That decision will be made by another judge.
In another case, a police officer who shot dead a 19-year-old Guinean man in western France earlier this month has been charged with “voluntary murder,” local prosecutors said Wednesday. A man was shot dead by a police officer while trying to escape a roadblock. Investigation is still ongoing.
Clashes first erupted on Tuesday night in and around the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where Neher was killed, and the government deployed 2,000 police on Wednesday to maintain order. But after dusk the violence resumed.
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Police and firefighters struggled overnight to contain protesters and extinguish numerous fires that damaged schools, police stations, city halls and other public buildings, according to a spokesman for the National Police. The National Police on Thursday reported fires and skirmishes in several cities overnight, from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north, but tensions were centered in Nanterre and other Parisian suburbs. was.
A spokesman said police had arrested 150 people across the country, more than half of them in the Paris area. Police regulations did not allow her name to be released.
The number of injured was not immediately released.
The scene of violence in the French suburbs is reminiscent of 2005. The deaths of then 15-year-old Buna Traoré and 17-year-old Zaid Venna sparked three weeks of nationwide riots, anger and resentment over neglected and crime-ridden suburban housing projects. exposed. .
Two boys were electrocuted when they entered a substation to hide from the police in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.
French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency safety meeting on Thursday on violence.
“These actions are completely unjustified,” Macron said at the start of the meeting, which aims to secure hotspots and plan for the next few days “so that full peace can return.”
Macron also said now was the time for “mourning and respect” after Neher’s mother called for a silent march in memory of him in the square where he was murdered on Thursday.
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Several vehicles were set on fire in Nanterre, while demonstrators threw fireworks and stones at police, who fired repeated salvos of tear gas. Fires were reported to have started at the power plant, with flames rising from the three-story building. The fire damaged the Lille Saint-Denis town hall on the outskirts of Paris, not far from the French National Stadium and the headquarters of the 2024 Paris Olympics.
A police officer charged with murder is being held on suspicion of manslaughter and may face preliminary charges on Thursday as well, according to the Nanterre public prosecutor’s office.
French activists reiterate calls to tackle what they perceive as systematic police abuse, especially in areas where many suffer from poverty and racism and classism, especially in areas where Nehel lived. rice field. Government officials condemned the killings and tried to distance themselves from the actions of police officers.
President Macron called the killing “unexplainable and inexcusable” and called for calm. “Nothing can justify the death of a young man,” he told reporters in Marseille on Wednesday.
A video of the shooting shared online shows two police officers leaning against the driver’s side window of the yellow car before one officer fires into the window and the car takes off. ing. Video shows the car then crashing into a nearby pillar.
The driver died at the scene, prosecutors said.
Today, the shooting site in Nanterre’s Nelson Mandela Square is decorated with a bouquet of orange and yellow roses.
“The shocking footage broadcast yesterday clearly shows the intervention of our police against the rules of engagement,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Born told parliament.
Although lethal firearm use is not as common in France as it is in the United States, several people have been killed or injured at the hands of French police in recent years, calling for further accountability. In France, protests against racial profiling and other injustices followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.
Police and gendarmerie shootings killed 17 people in 2021, according to the latest government statistics available.
Asked about police abuses, Mr Macron said justice should be served as a matter of course.
Yasin Buzrou, a lawyer for Nehel’s family, told The Associated Press that they want the police to be charged with murder, not manslaughter.
French football star Kylian Mbappe, who grew up in the Parisian suburb of Bondy, is one of many who were shocked by the incident.
“Hurt for France,” he tweeted.
Corvette reports from Paris. Contributions were made by Oleg Setinich and Christophe Ena from Nanterre and Angela Charlton from Paris.