Kylian Mbappe and other prominent France internationals have expressed their indignation after the death of a 17-year-old delivery driver who was shot and killed during a police check in a Paris suburb.
The killing of the teenager, identified as Naël M., prompted nationwide concern and widespread messages of indignation and condolences, and French president Emmanuel Macron called the young man’s death “inexplicable and inexcusable.”
It also triggered unrest in multiple towns around Paris. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said 31 people were arrested, 25 police officers injured and 40 cars burned in overnight unrest.
“I hurt for my France,” Mbappe, who grew up in the Paris suburb of Bondy, wrote Wednesday in a Twitter message accompanied by broken heart emoticons.
“Unacceptable situation. All my thoughts go to the family and loved ones of Naël, this little angel gone much too soon.”
J’ai mal à ma France. 💙🤍💔💔💔
Une situation inacceptable.
Tout mes pensées vont pour la famille et les proches de Naël, ce petit ange parti beaucoup trop tôt.
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) June 28, 2023
The tensions focused around the suburban area of Nanterre, where lawyers say the teenager was killed Tuesday during a traffic check. The police officer suspected of firing on him was detained and faces potential manslaughter charges, according to the Nanterre prosecutor’s office.
The Nanterre neighborhood where Naël lived remained on edge Wednesday morning, with police on guard around the regional administration and burned car wreckage and overturned garbage bins still visible in some areas. Bouquets of orange and yellow roses were tied to the post where the car crashed after the shooting, on Nanterre’s Nelson Mandela Square.
Naël’s mother appealed online for a silent march on Thursday in her son’s honour, near the scene of his death.
“As if this latest police blunder wasn’t enough, the 24-hour news channels are taking advantage of it by making a big fuss,” he wrote. “The ‘journalists’ ask ‘questions’ with the sole aim of distorting the truth, criminalizing the victim and finding extenuating circumstances where none exist.
“An age-old method for masking the real problem. Why don’t we turn off the TV and find out what’s going on?”
Un jeune homme de 17 ans abattu à bout portant par un policier pour un refus d’obtempérer lors d’un contrôle. Telle est la réalité de la situation et elle est dramatique.
Comme si cette nouvelle bavure policière ne suffisait pas les chaînes d’information en continu en font leurs…
— Jules Kounde (@jkeey4) June 27, 2023
Darmanin said 1,200 police were deployed overnight and 2,000 would be out in force Wednesday in the Paris region and around other big cities to “maintain order.”
Videos purported to be of the incident were “extremely shocking,” Darmanin said, pledging a full investigation. The images show two police officers leaning into the driver’s side window of a yellow car before the vehicle pulls away as one officer fires into the window. The car is later seen crashed into a post nearby.
Deadly use of firearms is less common in France than in the United States. Tuesday’s death unleashed anger in Nanterre and other towns, including around housing projects where many residents struggle with poverty and discrimination and feel police abuse is under-punished.
A lawyer for Naël’s family, Yassine Bouzrou, told The Associated Press they want the police officer pursued for murder instead of manslaughter and want the investigation handed to a different region because they fear Nanterre investigators won’t be impartial.
The lawyers rebutted a reported statement by the police that their lives were in danger because the driver had threatened to run them over.
The government will hold a security meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss next steps, Darmanin said.
The victim was wounded by a gunshot and died at the scene, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. A passenger in the car was briefly detained and released, and police are searching for another passenger, who fled.
Several people have died or sustained injuries at the hands of French police in recent years, prompting demands for more accountability. France also saw protests against racial profiling and other injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police in Minnesota.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
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