Violent protests flare up in France after police shot teenager dead

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Violent protests shook Paris suburbs overnight and celebrities expressed outrage Wednesday after police shot dead a teenager during a traffic stop and appeared to have lied about the circumstances of the killing.

The 17-year-old man, named only as Nael M., was pulled over by two policemen on Tuesday for breaking traffic rules, prosecutors said.

Police initially reported that one officer shot at the teenager because he was driving his car at him, but this version of events was contradicted by a video circulating on social media and authenticated by AFP.

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The footage shows the two policemen standing by the side of the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver. A voice is heard saying “You are going to get a bullet in the head.”

The police officer appears to fire point blank as the car abruptly drives off.

The car moved a few dozen meters before crashing. The driver died shortly after.

His death sparked immediate protests in Nanterre, a western Paris suburb.

Bins were also set alight and a fire broke out at a music school, while police tried to disperse the protesters with teargas.

Protests then broke out in some neighboring suburbs.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Wednesday that 31 people had been arrested overnight, 24 police slightly injured and around 40 cars torched.

The 38-year old policeman seen firing the lethal shot was taken into custody and is under investigation for voluntary manslaughter.

Nael M’s lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, said he would file a legal complaint against the policeman for voluntary manslaughter, and against his colleague for complicity in the shooting.

The lawyer also said that he would file a further complaint for false testimony against the policemen for claiming that Nael M. had tried to run them over.

There were two passengers in the car. One ran off and the other, also a teenager, was briefly detained.

Celebrities and some politicians voiced disgust, concern and outrage at the shooting.

“I am hurting for my France,” tweeted Kylian Mbappe, captain of the French men’s national football team and star player at the Paris Saint-Germain club.

“An unacceptable situation. All my thoughts go to the friends and family of Nael, that little angel who left us far too soon,” Mbappe said.

Actor Omar Sy, famous for his role in the film “The Intouchables” and the “Lupin” TV show, said on Twitter: “I hope that justice worthy of the name will honor the memory of this child.”

Far-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon said that “France no longer has the death penalty,” and called for “a complete redesign of the police force.”

Darmanin - who has previously backed the police in similar situations - called the video footage “extremely shocking” in parliament.

On Wednesday he said that the officer would be suspended “if the charges against him are maintained.”

The minister announced that 2,000 police would be deployed to deal with any further violence later Wednesday.

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