French authorities call for calm after clashes in Nantes
PARIS (AP) — Authorities called for calm in France’s western city of Nantes on Wednesday, as tensions mounted a day after a fatal police shooting of a 22-year-old driver trying to avoid an identity check triggered a violent rampage.
Interior ministry Gerard Collomb strongly condemned the violence, and authorities said prosecutors have opened a judicial investigation. Police also opened an internal probe looking at the officer’s actions and his decision to use a firearm.
Protesters in a Nantes neighborhood clashed with police late Tuesday, throwing Molotov cocktails, burning cars and rubbish bins, setting fire to shops and buildings in three other poor neighborhoods across the city.
The clashes ended early Wednesday morning, but as night fell again authorities feared a new round. The city’s mayor, the Justice Minister and the prosecutor handling the case added to calls for calm.
The incident added to what the Nantes prosecutor said was already a “climate of tension” in the neighborhood of Breil.
Less than a week earlier, a young girl was slightly injured by a stray bullet in the same area after a group of youth sprayed gunfire on the facade of a building from their vehicle, prosecutor Pierre Sennes said. Police presence was increased afterward.
Sennes said six police officers were involved in Tuesday’s identity check of the man, who quickly put his car into reverse in a maneuver “to flee.”
He had been sought under a year-old arrest warrant for an alleged robbery in Creteil, south of Paris, Sennes told reporters, saying that perhaps was a possible reason for his effort to flee. When stopped, the man had given police in Nantes a false identity.
A police officer followed the car and fired a single shot into the open window, hitting the driver, who died shortly thereafter, Sennes said.
He stressed that he has drawn no conclusions in his investigation as critical information was missing.