A teenager is fighting for his life in a Greek hospital after a police officer shot him in the head as he fled a gas station, apparently without paying.
The police officer fired two shots at the 16-year-old Roma boy in Thessaloniki, the second largest city.
Protesters took to the streets on Monday, throwing Molotov cocktails at police.
The shooting highlighted the recurring problem of police violence in Greek cities.
Last year, Nikos Sampanis, an 18-year-old Roma man, was shot dead during a chase near Athens, and on December 6, 2008, a 15-year-old boy was shot dead in the capital during a chase. a night police patrol.
The death of Alexis Grigoropoulos in the central district of Exarchia is remembered every year by large protests in Athens and other cities. Several thousand police officers were deployed in the capital on Tuesday to prevent unrest.
In the latest shooting, the teenager filled his vehicle with €20 (£17) of petrol and then drove off. A video surveillance system released on Tuesday revealed that four police officers were inside the gas station at the time.
The 16-year-old young man left, chased by police on motorcycles. Police said he then turned his vehicle toward them in an attempt to hit them.
“I fired once in the air and once at the vehicle. The lives of my colleagues were in danger,” the 34-year-old officer reportedly said. He was later suspended from duty and charged with the shooting.
News of his shooting sparked protests from the local Roma community outside the Thessaloniki hospital where the boy underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his head. Protesters joined friends and relatives at the scene and stones were thrown at police, who responded with stun grenades.
“What if he didn’t pay? Did they have to kill him?” his father told Greek media, adding that the boy had made a mistake and police should have arrested him at his home.
Local reports indicate that Roma protesters burned tires and trash cans in the west of the city. The officer charged in the shooting appeared in court on charges of attempted homicide and other offenses.
A video taken outside the court later went viral, showing a man identified as the boy’s father being manhandled by police outside the court. We see the man thrown to the ground, surrounded by riot police.
According to the Council of Europe, Roma (Gypsies) constitute the largest minority in Greece and number around 270,000 people, most living in makeshift accommodation.
As the boy lay in critical condition in Thessaloniki hospital, his lawyer told reporters they did not want him to become another Alexis Grigoropoulos.
Theofilos Alexopoulos told Thess Today that his life was hanging by a thread, but they wanted him to survive and for the plight of the Roma to be recognized.