A French policeman has been charged with homicide after shooting and killing a teenager during a traffic stop in Nanterre, a Paris suburb. The shooting occurred at a police check-in on Tuesday, June 27, after 17-year old Nahel M. was ordered to stop by two police officers, one of whom had a weapon drawn. During the ensuing exchange, the teenager started to drive away when the officer opened fired at point-blank range, fatally wounding Nahel, according to the BBC and Associated Press.
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The yellow car the teenager was driving crashed to a stop after the shooting. And despite the efforts of first responders, Nahel died at the scene from multiple bullet wounds to the chest. There were two other passengers riding in the teenager’s car at the time: one of them was detained by the police but later released, while the other fled on foot from the scene.
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Police initially claimed the teenager had driven his car towards them in an alleged attempt to harm the officers, but video footage posted online and later verified by the Agence France-Presse refuted the officers’ account. As the BBC reports, the French news agency also added that someone in the video can be overheard saying, “you’re going to be shot in the head,” although it’s unclear who made the remark.
The policeman who shot Nahel was detained and brought into custody shortly thereafter, and has been charged with homicide. The shooting has nonetheless caused mass protests throughout France and led to the deployment of 40,000 police officers, resulting in violent clashes between protesters and police. The unrest has been ongoing since the shooting, as protests turned from peaceful gatherings — including a vigil for the murdered teen — to riots that have left 2,000 burned cars and 500 damaged buildings in their wake, per the New York Times.
Photo: Zakaria Abdelkafi/AFP (Getty Images)
By the third night of the protests, 667 people had been arrested and 249 police officers injured. French protestors have reportedly shot fireworks and hurled stones at police stations and police officers throughout major cities — among them Paris. French citizens have long held a reputation as some of the fiercest protesters around the world, and the French people have made it clear that the police violence will not stand.
French President Emmanuel Macron called the killing “inexcusable” but asked that “calm justice be done,” in reponse to the teenager’s death. This marks the second killing at the hands of police this year during a routine traffic stop in France, although last year a “record 13 people died in this way,” as the BBC reports. The arrest of the policeman who shot 17-year old Nahel M. may not be enough for the people of France, but it’s a start.
Photo: Benjamin Girette (Getty Images)