A French police officer has been charged with homicide and is being held in custody in connection with the death of a teenager near Paris on Tuesday. Nahel M, 17, was shot at point-blank range as he drove away and wrecked shortly afterwards.
Anger at his death at the hands of a police officer has erupted into violence across the country. On Thursday afternoon, violence disrupted a march headed by the boy’s mother. Protesters were arrested in Lille and Marseille on the third night of turmoil.
A massive fire destroyed the bottom floor of a bank in the town of Nanterre, where the adolescent was killed.
Social media videos and photos appear to show stacks of trash blazing in multiple locations.
In preparation for further violence, bus and tram services in Paris and the surrounding area were suspended at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT). Some suburbs have imposed curfews at night.
According to the BBC, transport services in Lille and Tours have also been interrupted.
Over 40,000 police officers have been sent across France to deal with the unrest, which began with riots in various French cities on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
The country’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said 170 cops were injured in the fights on Wednesday night alone, and 180 people were arrested. On Thursday, thousands of Israelis marched to demand justice for Nahel M.
Police officers were also hurt on Thursday afternoon in Nanterre, following a mostly peaceful march appealing for justice. Over 6,000 individuals attended the event.
The French prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, said she understood the outpouring of sorrow in the aftermath of the 17-year-old’s death, but she denounced the riots.
“Nothing justifies the violence that’s occurred,” she remarked.
The death of the teenager has ignited a broader debate about police power and the connection between authorities and citizens from France’s suburbs who feel isolated from the country’s rich metropolis centres.
“We have a legal and judicial system that protects police officers and creates a culture of impunity in France,” Nahel’s lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, told the BBC World Service’s Newshour.
However, Nahel’s mother stated that she did not blame the police or the system in general for her son’s death, but rather the officer who fired the fatal shot.
The police officer accused of shooting him claimed he fired because he feared for his life. According to his lawyer, his client shot his firearm “in full compliance with the law.”