Report: Video shows Paris police helping teens before riot


A brief video taken 10 minutes after an accident that ignited rioting in a poor Paris suburb this week shows emergency workers trying in vain to save two teens who were on motorbike that collided with a police car.

The video, shot by an amateur cameraman, also may provide evidence to contradict an initial conclusion by investigators that the police car was further damaged later in the evening by angry residents.

“There was no panic, neither by police or the people from around; everybody was calm,” said the cameraman, who asked to be identified only by his first name, “Nicolas,” in a telephone interview yesterday. “The firemen were very professional, focused on the bodies.”

Although the video reportedly is compelling, Nicolas and others who have seen the images said that it does not answer the key question of whether this was purely a road accident or a criminal action by officers driving too fast.

This contradicts earlier reports that the police panicked and fled from the scene, and that rescue personnel couldn’t even reach the teens. It suggests, at least to me, that the riots got more of a rolling than immediate start. That might suggest all kinds of things, including organization on the rioters’ part from the beginning, or even that someone fabricated the stories about the police fleeing the scene in order to start the riot in the first place. It wouldn’t be the first time that a little deception has gone a long way toward starting widespread violence.