Paris protest
Police clash with demonstrators in Paris. TIMOTHEE FORGET/Reuters

On Tuesday 28 June, a 17-year-old boy, named Nael M, was fatally shot by a police officer in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. The anonymous police officer is being investigated on homicide charges.

The video footage, which has been circulating on social media, depicted the young boy being held at gunpoint in a yellow car. Two police officers are leaning into the driver's window of the vehicle before it pulls away and the officer fires toward the driver. Seconds later, the car crashes into a nearby post.

The bullet penetrated the boy's chest, and he died at the scene despite the help of emergency services.

Officers at the scene justified the shooting as they told authorities that their lives were in danger after the victim threatened to run them over. Nael M's family have rejected the claim.

The lawyer for the 17-year-old boy insists that the video footage "clearly showed a policeman killing a young man in cold blood".

Since the fatal encounter, protests in the Nanterre region have started. There were also protests seeking justice for Nael M in several other neighbourhoods, according to the French authorities.

The other neighbourhoods that witnessed additional unrest include the towns of Asnières, Colombes, Suresnes, Aubervilliers, Clichy-sous-Bois and Mantes-la-Jolie.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) has confirmed that cars, bus stops, and bins have been set on fire, and the police have tried to stop the small groups of demonstrators with tear gas. Fireworks were also fired at the riot police during the protest, along with chants outside of the police headquarters.

Civilian footage of the protests in Paris, following the death of Nael M.

According to Gerald Darmanin, President Emmanuel Macron's Interior Minister, 25 police officers were injured, and 40 cars were completely damaged. The Paris authorities reported 20 arrests on riot charges.

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, called the fatal shooting "inexcusable". He further went on to express that "nothing justifies the death of a young person".

The 38-year-old police officer, who fired at the boy, is being investigated for intentional homicide by a public official. However, there is another investigation that examines the driver's failure to stop the vehicle aligned with the accusation of an attempt to kill the officer.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a left-wing politician in France, stated: "The death penalty no longer exists in France. No policeman has the right to kill except in self-defence."

It has been recorded that since 2020, nearly 70 people have been killed at the hands of law enforcement officers in France.

The demonstrations, that call for justice for Nael M, come after another young driver was shot dead by the French authorities two weeks ago. In the western town of Angouleme, a 19-year-old boy was fatally wounded by the police force after allegedly hitting a police officer in the legs.

In June 2022, a 21-year-old woman was killed by police officers in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. The officers opened fire on the vehicle after the driver ignored a police order to stop.

Speaking about her friend's death, 21-year-old Ines said: "I thought my friend Rayana, in the seat in front of me, had passed out. I tried to shout out her name several times at the top of my voice. Her body was limp and then I realised she had blood all over her neck."

In March 2023, the French police clashed with a large group of demonstrators in Paris, following disagreements surrounding the pension reform bill. It was reported that at least 108 law enforcement officers were wounded across France.

Although most of the protestors were peaceful, radical groups took to the streets to throw fireworks and petrol bombs. The police responded with tear gas and water cannons, injuring several demonstrators.

President Macron has said that reform in France is essential.