How brother of youth killed by 'trigger happy' French cop became a policeman

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The shooting of Lahouari Ben Mohamed, 17, during a routine check in Marseille in 1980, was one of a series of events that sparked the creation of the French anti-racist movement in 1983. Lahouari's little brother Hassan, who was only four at the time of the killing, himself went on to become a police officer, and has just published a book about what happened to his eldest brother. Based on a long investigation and in-depth interviews, this fascinating book takes its title, La Gâchette facile, from what the armed policeman said just before the shooting: “Careful, tonight I'm trigger-happy”. Louise Fessard met the author.

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On October 18th, 1980, on a poor housing estate in Marseille, a policeman shot and killed Lahouari Ben Mohamed, aged 17, at point-blank range with a Mat 49 submarine gun, one of a series of acts of police violence and racist crimes killings in the early 1980s that gave rise to the French anti-racist movement. The teenager was in a car with three friends, and the policeman, Jean-Paul Taillefer, then 23, was one of four officers with the CRS, the French security police, checking their identity cards and car documents.