A French police officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old boy in a Paris suburb on Tuesday has been charged with voluntary homicide, sparking widespread protests and riots across the country.
The officer, whose name has not been disclosed, fired at close range at Nahel, who was of North African origin, during a traffic stop in Nanterre. The shooting was captured on video and circulated on social media, triggering outrage and accusations of police brutality.
Nanterre Prosecutor Pascal Prache said on Thursday that his initial investigation led him to conclude “the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met” in the shooting. The officer has been placed in provisional detention, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The killing of Nahel has reignited long-simmering tensions between police and young people in disadvantaged neighborhoods, where many feel discriminated against and harassed by the authorities. Thousands of people took part in a memorial march on Thursday to demand justice for Nahel, but the protest ended with clashes between demonstrators and police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Several cars were set alight and shops were vandalized.
The unrest spread to other towns and cities, with 150 people arrested overnight for violence and vandalism. The local authority of the Paris suburb of Clamart imposed a curfew from 9pm to 6am until Monday to restore order.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the number of police officers deployed would more than quadruple, from 9,000 to 40,000, to prevent further escalation. He warned that “the state’s response will be extremely firm” and that “the professionals of disorder must go home”.
President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency security meeting on Thursday about the violence. He said the acts were “totally unjustifiable” and called for calm and dialogue. He also expressed his condolences to Nahel’s family and said he would ensure justice.