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.The video does give lie to the rumors that the police did nothing to assist the two teens before they died - the rumors that sparked a multi-day riot with police that injured more than 100 police, including dozens hit by gunfire - several seriously.
"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.
The accident occurred at about 5 p.m. Sunday in Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris, and ignited two nights of rioting in the town.
Meantime, in a speech to police officers yesterday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted that the violence following the accident was not the result of social deprivation in immigrant neighborhoods, but rather the work of criminals who he labeled a "thugocracy."
The video also suggests that reports that the police car involved in the accident was damaged by rioters following the incident may be untrue as well.