PARIS — A night of rioting touched off by a police killing set off a familiar replay of grim media images on Wednesday morning in France, where law enforcement tactics in immigrant neighborhoods are a regular source of friction.
French television replayed a seemingly endless loop of images from the western city of Nantes of burned-out cars, smashed bus shelters and shattered store fronts: recurrent symbols of the country’s struggles with policing in minority neighborhoods.
Nantes, located on the Atlantic Coast, is known for its vibrant start-up scene and tech-oriented economy, but not much of that has rubbed off on neighborhoods like Le Breil.
It was there that the riot police pulled over a 22-year-old man acquaintances identified as Aboubakar, the son of immigrants from Guinea, during a traffic stop Tuesday night. (The authorities did not name him.)
The accounts of residents and the officers differ, but one thing was certain: The young man was shot in the neck and died before he made it to the hospital.
Police shootings are rare in France compared with the United States, and when they occur the investigative machinery of the French state is mobilized. On Tuesday evening, the mayor of Nantes, Johanna Rolland, a Socialist, called for “total transparency over what has happened tonight,” and extended her sympathies to the family of the slain man.
Officials said that Aboubakar had had at least eight previous encounters with the police and that he had had an outstanding arrest warrant on a robbery charge.
On Tuesday night, after he was pulled over, they said, he backed his car up at high speed toward children and a police officer. But residents say that he had not been acting aggressively.
What followed was a night in which angry youths in three Nantes neighborhoods threw firebombs and burned eight buildings and some 30 cars, the authorities said.
Tensions between the police and the communities they patrol have erupted in violence repeatedly over the years.
In May 2017, there were riots in a Paris suburb after a young man was killed while fleeing the police; there were riots in July 2016 after an arrest; and days of rioting erupted in 2005 all over France after two young men were electrocuted while fleeing from the police.
Each time, the government vowed to bring in more help to the neighborhoods. President Emmanuel Macron is only the latest to announce such help, mostly through an enhanced police presence. Tensions with the police persist.
“It’s always the same scenario,” said Gérard Mauger, an emeritus scholar at the CNRS research institute in Paris who has studied urban riots in France for decades. “But it’s hardened. The score settling is more violent. Now there are guns.”
He added: “For 40 years we’ve had 10 percent unemployment, much higher in these neighborhoods. The first victims of it are the immigrants.”
In the Le Breil neighborhood of Nantes, the police had increased their presence in recent weeks because of confrontations between local youths. “There’s been a lot of score settling recently,” Saïd En-Némèr, who runs a local youth group, said.
Mr. En-Némèr, in a phone interview from Nantes, said, “They had beefed up the police presence to ‘protect’ the neighborhood.”
Thierry Spitz, a representative of the local police union, said: “These neighborhoods are very on edge. There are gunshots at least once a month.”
On the night Aboubakar was shot, officials said, the police were on the lookout for the car he was driving because it was tied to drug trafficking in Rennes. Mr. Spitz said the officers noticed that the young man was not wearing a seatbelt and pulled him over.
Aboubakar gave the officers a phony ID, the union official said, and was ordered to the police station. The young man then “backed up his car at high speed; there were two kids behind the car,” Mr. Spitz said. “One of the officers pushed them out of the way and was touched by the car,” he said.
“The risk was great,” Mr. Spitz said. “The officer had to use his weapon. To me, it was a case of legitimate defense.”
Mr. En-Némèr, who knew Aboubakar from soccer matches organized by his group, vigorously disputed the police account. He said 10 witnesses interviewed by him and his group all agreed: There had been no aggression from the young man.
“This is clearly a police blunder,” he said. “The young man was complying with the officers. He wasn’t aggressive. The police check was going just fine.”
He contested the idea that the car had struck an officer.
“They fired at him without warning,” Mr. En-Némèr said. “There was lots of blood coming from his neck, but it was too late; the ambulance came too late.”
Aboubakar was known as “cheerful” and “respectful,” Mr. En-Némèr said. “Now,” he said, “they are trying to pass him off as a thug.”
Judicial officials in Nantes said the shooting would be investigated, and a march was being organized for Thursday.
For Mr. En-Némèr, though, the shooting demonstrated that “you might as well re-establish the death penalty.”