French policeman who gunned down teen in Paris released on bail

French policeman who gunned down teen as he sat in his car in Paris suburb, triggering mass riots in June, is released on bail ahead of murder trial

  • Florian M. was released on bail ahead of the trial expected to take place in 2024
  • He has spent months remanded in custody after shooting of 17-year-old in June 

The Paris policeman charged with murdering an ethnic minority teenager and triggering mass rioting across France was today released on bail.

Florian M., a 38-year-old traffic control officer, shot dead Nahel Merzouk, 17, from a French Algerian-Moroccan background, in the suburb of Nanterre on June 27.

There were immediate claims of a racist killing, as thousands of people took to the streets, causing some £600million worth of damage to property.

Buildings and cars were set alight, while police and gendarmes during nightly battles with protestors, 1800 of whom were arrested. 

Rioters rammed a burning car into the home of a mayor of a town outside Paris, injuring his wife and child in what he has branded as an ‘assassination attempt’ in July, and a 45,000-strong nationwide police operation was launched to regain control of the streets amid widespread rioting, looting and protests following Nahel’s death. 

A police officer has been handed a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide and placed in provisional detention following killing of Nahel on Tuesday 

black-clad protester is seen perched atop a traffic sign, as people take part in a march in the memory of 17-year-old Nahel

Left: A picture of smiling Nahel released by his family, along with the words: ‘The love of my life’. Right: A picture published in French media of the victim

Clashes continued following his funeral in July with thousands arrested on the streets of Paris. 

Florian M., whose full surname is not being revealed, was held in custody from June 29 pending trial, but on Wednesday legal sources confirmed he was at home in the Paris area.

READ MORE: What BOTH French policemen who pulled over 17-year-old driver Nahel said is revealed as dead boy’s passenger breaks his silence on ‘execution’ 

‘He was released under judicial supervision on Wednesday,’ said one of the sources. ‘His lawyer has repeatedly made bail appeals, and the latest was last Thursday.’

Investigating judges believe that after four-and-a-half months on remand, the policeman can safely stay out of prison.

There were initially serious fears that he a serving police officer accused of murder would be vulnerable to attack.

Bail conditions include ‘paying a bond’ and staying away from parties to the case, including witnesses, said the source.

Florian M. is also banned ‘from appearing in Nanterre’ and from ‘holding a weapon’, said a prosecuting source.

Laurent-Franck Liénard, the motorcycle policeman’s lawyer, has always pleaded his client’s innocence, saying the detention was ‘illegal.’

The defence claim that Florian M. feared he was about to be run over by Merzouk, who was at the wheel of a Mercedes car, during a traffic control stop.

However, video evidence that appeared later appeared to contradict the policeman’s initial statement.

In turn, Merzouk’s mother, Mounia, said: ‘I don’t blame the police, I blame one person – the one who took the life of my son.’

Merzouk’s mother, Mounia, said: ‘I don’t blame the police, I blame one person – the one who took the life of my son.’

Mounia, mother of the French teenager killed by police, attends a memorial march for her son 

Protesters clash with police, following the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by an officer during a traffic stop

Burned cars line the street at the foot of the Pablo Picasso estate in Nanterre, west of Paris on June 30, 2023

People attend a march in tribute to Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer during a traffic stop, in Nanterre

She said the officer ‘saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life’.

‘A police officer cannot take his gun and fire at our children, take our children’s lives,’ she previously said.  

READ MORE: How France has burned under Macron with anti-cop riots, crippling Yellow Vest strikes and violent protests over pensions during his six-year reign 

Nahel, who did not have a criminal record, was suspected of reckless and underage driving in the car, which did not contain anything illegal.

Lawyers for Nahel’s family have also described the circumstances of his death as ‘an execution’ and called for an enquiry into police racism against ethnic minorities.

The policeman’s murder is expected to take place in 2024 at the earliest.

Race was a taboo topic for decades in France, which is officially committed to a doctrine of colour-blind universalism. 

In the wake of Nahel’s killing, French anti-racism activists renewed complaints about police behaviour.

Thirteen people who didn’t comply with traffic stops were fatally shot by French police last year. 

This year, another three people, including Nahel, died under similar circumstances. 

The deaths have prompted demands for more accountability in France, which also saw racial justice protests after George Floyd’s killing by police in Minnesota.

The protests echoed the three weeks of rioting in 2005 that followed the deaths of 15-year-old Bouna Traoré and 17-year-old Zyed Benna, who were electrocuted while hiding from police in a power substation in Clichy-sous-Bois.

Who was the rugby-loving teen whose ‘execution’ by cops set Paris alight ‘Much loved’ French-Algerian Nahel, 17, was only child brought up by his mother in their suburban council flat and was training to be an electrician 

The death of Nahel M., a 17-year-old shot dead at point-blank range by a French policeman during a traffic stop sparked utter chaos in the country with violent protests sweeping the streets nationwide.

But who was the boy whose death has become so emblematic in a country which the United Nations today declared must ‘seriously address the deep issues of racism and discrimination in law enforcement’?

Nahel’s mother, Mounia M., bought up her only child alone in a council flat in Nanterre, the place which once housed the biggest shanty town for Algerian immigrants.

‘Nahel was much loved within the Algerian community that is still very big in Nanterre, but he had lots of friends from other backgrounds,’ said a family friend.

‘He was a typical young lad – full of energy and always wanting to try out new things. He never knew his father, so life was not always stable or that easy for him.

‘Like all Arab Muslim boys of his age, he also had to put up with regular discrimination, especially from the police.’

Nahel’s (pictured) mother, Mounia M., bought up her only child alone in a council flat in Nanterre, the place which once housed the biggest shanty town for Algerian immigrant

Nahel’s mother, wearing a ‘Justice for Nahel’ T-shirt, raises her fist as she attends a march in the memory of her 17-year-old son who was killed by French Police in Nanterre, near Paris, France, 29 June 2023

French-Algerian Nahel was proud of his roots, his mother coming from a country that was colonised by France and remained so up until 1962 when it won a ferocious war of independence – one that spilled over onto mainland France.

Algerians complained of brutality and discrimination in every aspect of life.

Young Algerian men were frequently murdered by Paris police officers in crimes that have never reached court, and the bitterness surrounding that era prevails.

After school, Nahel got a job as a takeaway delivery boy, while also regularly playing rugby league for the Nanterre Pirates.

He had played for the club for the last three years as part of an ‘integration programme’ for teenagers struggling academically.

The programme, run the Ovale Citoyen society, was aimed at getting people from deprived areas into apprenticeships.

Ovale Citoyen president Jeff Puech said: ‘He was someone who had the will to fit in socially and professionally, not some kid who dealt in drugs or got fun out of juvenile crime.’

Mr Puech praised the teenager’s ‘exemplary attitude’ and rugby-playing skills.

Nahel was enrolled at college in nearby Suresnes, on a trainee electricians’ course, but his attendance record was poor.

There was no sign of a criminal record, but he had been the subject of at least five police checks since 2021, and was due at a juvenile court in September over his ‘failure to cooperate’ with officers.

He was also suspected of misusing a provisional driving licence.

Protesters throw fireworks at riot police during clashes in Nanterre, near Paris, France, 29 June 2023. Violence broke out after police fatally shot a 17-year-old during a traffic stop in Nanterre on 27 June 2023

Firefighters extinguish burning vehicles during clashes between protesters and police, after the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer during a traffic stop, in Nanterre, Paris suburb, France, June 28, 2023

The legal age for taking the wheel of a vehicle unaccompanied in France is 18, yet Nahel was driving a high-powered Mercedes AMG – one that was hired and registered in Poland.

Quite what he was doing in the car with two other unidentified companions will play a key part in the ongoing judicial investigation into the shooting.

Shortly after his death, an enraged paramedic told reporters he knew Nahel ‘like a little brother’.

‘He never lifted raised a hand to anyone and he was never violent,’ he told reporters. 

Mounia simply remembers that he was ‘going to spend the day with friends’ on Tuesday.

She recalls him giving her a ‘big kiss’ before she went to work, and saying: ‘I love you mum’.

‘He gave me a big kiss and told me he loved me, I told him to be careful, we left the house at the same time and went to McDonalds, then I went to work like everyone.

‘He was everything to me, and that son of a b***h shot him,’ Mounia said. ‘I only had one, he was my best friend, my son, we were so close.’ 

‘I devoted everything to him. I’ve only got one son, I haven’t got 10 children. He was my life, my best friend.’

Referring to Floriant M., the 38-year-old policeman charged with murdering her son, Mounia said: ‘He didn’t have to kill my son, there were other ways to deal with him.

‘A bullet? So close to his chest? No, I can’t imagine that. No, there are other ways to get someone out of a car’.

Mounia added: ‘The policeman saw the head of an Arab, of a little kid, he wanted to take his life’.

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