Media reports said yesterday that protests and unrest erupted in the Paris region overnight after police shot dead a 17-year-old who failed to stop when ordered to by traffic police.

Reuters reported that protesters shot fireworks at police and set cars ablaze in the working class Paris suburb of Nanterre on Wednesday, in a second night of unrest following the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old boy during a traffic stop there.

Several incidents of unrest were also recorded in the towns of Asnières, Colombes, Suresnes, Aubervilliers, Clichy-sous-Bois and Mantes-la-Jolie.

The use of lethal force by officers against the teenager, who was of North African origin, has reportedly fed into a deep-rooted perception of police brutality in the ethnically diverse suburbs of France's biggest cities.

The BBC says video circulating on social media shows a police officer pointing a gun at the driver of a car, before a gunshot is heard.  The car then crashes to a stop.

The teenager, named as Nahel, died of bullet wounds in the chest despite help from emergency services.

Nahel; photo / CNN.

The officer accused of shooting him has been detained on homicide charges, according to the BBC.

The shooting triggered a series of protests on Tuesday night in Nanterre, the area just west of Paris where the teenager was killed.  Some 31 people were arrested following the disorder.

Nahel is reportedly the second person this year in France to have been killed in a police shooting during a traffic stop.  The BBC notes that last year, a record 13 people died in this way.

Footage posted online and verified by the AFP news agency shows two officers at the vehicle.  One points his weapon at the driver through the window and appears to fire at point-blank range as he tries to drive off.

Two others were in the car at the time of the shooting - one fled while another, also a minor, was arrested and held by police.

The Nanterre shooting is set to be one of those symbolic moments that define the troubled relations between police and disaffected populations in the suburban cités, or estates.

Gérald Darmanin, interior minister, set the tone when he said that the police action was - from the look of it – unacceptable, according to the BBC.

No-one disputes that refusing to stop at a traffic control is a serious offence, and that it happens too frequently. But on 13 occasions last year occupants of cars in such situations were shot dead by French police. That strongly suggests something is wrong, according to the BBC.

Authorities have opened two separate investigations following the teen's death - one into a possible killing by a public official, and another into the driver's failure to stop his vehicle and the alleged attempt to kill a police officer.

Paris police chief Laurent Nuñez reportedly told French television station BFMTV that the policeman's actions "raises questions", though he suggested the officer may have felt threatened.

The 17-year-old's family lawyer Yassine Bouzrou insisted that was an illegitimate defense, telling the same channel the video "clearly showed a policeman killing a young man in cold blood".  

Another lawyer representing the victim's family, Jennifer Cambla, told local media that nothing could justify what had happened, and described the death as an "execution".