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From ‘self-defense’ to ‘accident’: French officer who killed black man, sparking riots, changes tune

From ‘self-defense’ to ‘accident’: French officer who killed black man, sparking riots, changes tune
The French officer who shot and killed a black man, triggering three days of riots, has changed his story. He now claims he didn’t fire out of self-defense, but says it was an accident.

The officer, who fired at a 22-year-old male, identified as Aboubakar F., on Tuesday initially said he acted out of self-defense, while trying to arrest the suspect. But he changed his account three days later, telling the investigators that "it was an accidental shot," AFP reported.

"He recognizes he made a statement that did not conform with the truth," officer's attorney, Laurent-Franck Lienard, said of the unexpected change of heart by his client.

Despite attempts to quell the tensions in Nantes by deploying hundreds of riot police officers on Wednesday, fierce clashes replayed again for a third night on Thursday. About 1,000 people marched the streets of the city, calling for "justice for Abou".

Some fifty-two cars were set on fire, including the vehicle of the city's mayor, Johanna Rolland, while eight buildings were vandalized, and there was an arson attempt on a high school and a petrol station, according to local media reports. No injuries have been reported so far.

While the police has not yet released an official number of arrests over the riots, French media suggested there have been over a dozen overall, including one in the Paris suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse, where the victim of the shooting presumably grew up. But mainly the outbreak of violence affected deprived immigrant neighborhoods of Nantes.

Aboubakar was gunned down when local police stopped his car to be inspected on suspicions of drug trafficking involvement. According to law enforcement, cited by French media, the man did not carry an ID card and gave them a false name, which made officers attempt to arrest him. Refusing to comply, Aboubakar had apparently injured one of the law enforcers, which prompted a bystanding police officer to open fire. 

The man was shot in his neck and bled out over the torn carotid artery before the ambulance reached the hospital, local media reported.

READ MORE: Torched cars & Molotov cocktails: Fatal police shooting triggers violence in France (VIDEO)

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised that the investigation into Aboubakar's death will be fully transparent, echoing the promise made by a Socialist city mayor, who denounced the shooting.

The Interior Ministry released a statement made by Gerard Collomb, where he condemned the violence and vowed that the government would do everything in its power "to calm the situation". Collomb said that he wanted to assure Johanna Rolland of his full support in resolving the situation and guaranteed his assistance in quelling the riots.

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