France stages reenactment of teen's killing by police that sparked riots

French authorities hope the reenactment will shed more light on the killing (Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT)
French authorities hope the reenactment will shed more light on the killing (Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT)

French judicial authorities on Sunday staged a reenactment of the fatal shooting in a Paris suburb of a teenager by a police officer during a traffic control that sparked over a week of nationwide rioting.

The officer fatally wounded Nahel M., 17, during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on June 27, in an incident captured in mobile phone footage that went viral.

The 38-year-old officer, identified only as Florian M., has been charged with voluntary homicide but was released from custody in November after five months in detention ahead of his eventual trial.

Vehicles were brought to the barricaded-off area for the reconstruction, including a yellow car resembling the Mercedes that Nahel was driving on the day of his death with two passengers aged 14 and 17 on board.

In the presence of their lawyers, Florian M., the officer on duty with him and several witnesses were to be questioned at the scene by the investigating magistrates.

They want to establish whether the officers were in danger when the shot was fired.

Journalists were not allowed to see the reenactment.

"For the first time, all parties will be confronted with their testimony at the crime scene, it is a strong moment," Nabil Boudi, lawyer for Nahel's mother Mounia, told AFP. While present at the reenactment, the mother made no comment to journalists.

France deployed 45,000 officers backed by light-armoured vehicles during the protests, while special police units and other security forces fanned out across the country to quell violence.

Nahel was killed as he pulled away from police who were trying to stop him for a traffic infraction. The patrolling officers said he had caught their attention because of reckless driving.

A video, authenticated by AFP, showed two police officers standing by the side of the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver.

Clashes first erupted as the video emerged, contradicting police accounts that the teenager was driving at the officer.

The two officers have maintained that they were in danger of death because they were trapped between the car and a wall.