The mother of a teenage boy who was fatally shot by the French police held a protest on Sunday against the release of the officer who killed her son. The officer was released from custody but remains under supervision as the case is further investigated.
Nahel Merzouk was 17 when he was shot and killed at a traffic stop on June 27, 2023. The officer responsible for his death, who has been identified as 38-year-old “Florian M.,” was jailed two days later for preliminary charges of voluntary homicide. The death of Nahel, whose parents were Algerian and Moroccan, sparked widespread unrest across France. In the first seven days of consecutive protests, 3,000 people were arrested.
Four-and-a-half months after Nahel’s death, on November 15, the officer was released as he no longer fulfilled the “legal criteria” under which he was held, according to the prosecution service. His judicial supervision means he is restricted in his movements while the case is further investigated. In response to his release, Nahel’s mother, Mounia, organized a peaceful protest in the place where her son died, Nelson Mandela Square in Nanterre, Paris. 500 demonstrators attended the event, with many wearing shirts that read “Justice for Nahel.”
A journalist from Mouv (an offshoot of Radio France) who attended the protest, posted on X (formerly Twitter) about the demonstration. They quoted Nahel’s mother, who said: “In the morning when I wake up, I no longer have his voice, I no longer have his smile. I miss everything about my baby.” Yanis, a childhood friend of Nahel, told Mouv: “There is clearly a double standard. The police are overprotected.”
It is unclear whether or not the case will proceed to trial.