The mother of a French teenager whose killing by police sparked over a week of nationwide riots has called on supporters to stage a new protest this weekend after the officer was released from custody.
In June, a police officer shot Nahel M., a 17-year-old Frenchman of North African origin, during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, with a video shared on social media showing he had been killed at point blank range. The killing and ensuing rioting posed uncomfortable questions about police brutality, living conditions and the integration of the hugely mixed populations of France’s poor suburbs.
Nahel’s mother Mounia called for protests in Nanterre on Sunday afternoon after French authorities released the policeman charged with murdering her son from pre-trial custody Wednesday. “I will fight, I won’t give up for my son,” she said in the video posted late Thursday, fighting back tears. Nahel’s mother called his release a “real injustice”.
“How can my son’s life mean so little to this justice system?” the woman who raised her son alone said in the video.
The 38-year-old officer, identified only as Florian M., remains under judicial supervision with restrictions placed on his movements. Ordering the release of the policeman, the investigating judges cited a lesser risk to public order and of “concerted action” among police officers, according to a copy of the judicial reasoning seen by Agence France-Presse on Friday.
The judges also pointed out “discrepancies” between various versions of the event. They said while “the problem of public order remains”, “it is less serious” now. Five months after the killing, “the pre-trial detention no longer appears to be the only means to ensure the protection of the defendant”, the judges also said.
“It was about time he got out”, said the policeman’s lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, calling his arrest a “political detention.” He said his client was “relieved” and has been reunited with his family, Lienard told AFP.
A lawyer for Nahel’s family, Yassine Bouzrou, declined comment.
The magistrates said that the investigation “has progressed.”
The officer is banned from speaking to witnesses or plaintiffs, going near the scene of the shooting and from carrying a weapon.
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Nahel was killed as he pulled away from police who were trying to stop him for an alleged traffic infraction. A video showed two police officers standing by the side of the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver. A voice is heard saying: “You are going to get a bullet in the head.”
Nahel grew up on an estate called Pablo Picasso in Nanterre, a Parisian suburb home to many immigrants. He had no criminal record.
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