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Paris police shooting:  Macron deplores ‘inexcusable’  killing of teenager

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FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron called the shooting dead of a 17-year-old by police during a traffic stop near Paris “inexcusable” in a rare criticism of law-enforcement hours after the incident triggered unrest.

A police officer is being investigated for voluntary homicide for shooting the youth, who was of North African origin. Prosecutors say he failed to comply with an order to stop his car early on Monday.

The interior ministry called for calm after at least 31 were arrested in overnight clashes, mainly in the Paris suburb of Nanterre where the victim lived, with youths burning cars and shooting fireworks at police, who sprayed people with tear gas.

“We have an adolescent that was killed, it is unexplainable and inexcusable,” Macron told reporters in Marseille.

“Nothing justifies the death of a young man,” he said, before calling for the judiciary to do its work.

Rights groups allege systemic racism inside law-enforcement agencies in France, a charge Macron has previously denied.

A video shared on social media, verified by Reuters, shows two police officers beside the car, a Mercedes AMG, with one shooting at the driver as the car pulled away. He subsequently died from his wounds, the local prosecutor said.

“You have a video that is very clear: a police officer killed a young man of 17 years. We can see that the shooting is not within the rules,” said Yassine Bouzrou, a lawyer for the family.

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Lawmakers held a minute’s silence in the National Assembly, where Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the shooting “seems clearly not to comply with the rules.”

Smoke and flame rise from burning objects on the road during clashes between youths and police, after a 17-year-old teenager was shot dead by police during a traffic stop, in Nanterre, France, June 27, 2023, in this picture obtained from social media. Twitter/@250celeste_/via REUTERS

The family has filed a legal complaint against the officers for homicide, complicity in homicide and false testimony, the lawyer said.

In a video shared on TikTok, a woman identified as the victim’s mother called for a memorial march in Nanterre on Thursday. “Everyone come, we will lead a revolt for my son,” she said.

UNUSUALLY FRANK

Tuesday’s killing was the third fatal shooting during traffic stops in France so far in 2023 down from a record 13 last year, a spokesperson for the national police said.

There were three such killings in 2021 and two in 2020, according to a Reuters tally, which shows the majority of victims since 2017 were Black or of Arab origin.

France’s human rights ombudsman has opened an inquiry into the death, the sixth such inquiry into similar incidents in 2022 and 2023.

Macron’s remarks were unusually frank in a country where senior politicians are often reticent to criticise police given voters’ security concerns.

He has faced criticism from rivals who accuse him of being soft on drug dealers and petty criminals and has implemented policies aimed at curbing urban crime, including greater authority for police to issue fines.

In the wake of the overnight unrest, the interior ministry said 2,000 police have been mobilised in the Paris region.

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The streets of Nanterre were calm on Wednesday morning and Fatima, a resident, said she hoped there would be no more violence.

“To revolt like we did yesterday won’t change things, we need to discuss and talk,” she said.

By LAYLI FOROUDI and JULIETTE JABKHIRO

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