The 17-year-old, named only as Nahel M and described as a French citizen with Algerian heritage, was shot at near point-blank range on Tuesday as he attempted to drive away from police who had pulled over his Mercedes in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.
His death, footage of which was shared to social media, has prompted three nights of intense riots across France, resulting in nearly 900 arrests.
The clashes have drawn comparison with three weeks of fury sparked by the deaths of two teenagers in 2005, electrocuted while hiding from police in a power substation in a Paris suburb.
During a peaceful march on Thursday, preceding clashes with riot police, Nahel’s mother Mounia led a procession from a flatbed lorry, holding a poster saying, “Police kill”, and raising a red flare as the march reached the local courthouse, while the crowds chanted her son’s name.
In footage shared separately to TikTok, she could be heard telling a French activist: “They took a baby away from me. He was still a child, he needed his mother.
“This morning he gave me a big kiss and told me he loved me. I told him be careful and I loved him.”
They had both left the house together on Tuesday morning, she said, with Nahel going to get a McDonalds as she left for work.
“And then I am told they shot my son, what can I do,” she said. “I only had him. I didn’t have 10 like him. He was my life, my best friend. He was my son, He was my everything.”
The officer accused of pulling the trigger at 9am on Tuesday has been charged preliminarily with voluntary homicide, after prosecutor Pascal Prache said his initial investigations indicated “the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met.”
Mr Prache said officers tried to stop Nahel because he looked so young and was driving a Mercedes with Polish number plates in a bus lane, and that the officer who fired the shot said he feared he, his colleague or a bystander could be hit by the car.
France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin has ordered a complete shutdown of all public bus and tram services across the country to take effect before sunset on Friday, after what he described as a night of “rare violence” on Thursday.
Police fired water cannon, tear gas and grenades at protesters as some erected barricades, lit fires at public buildings, looted shops and shot fireworks at police.
Nahel’s mother told broadcaster France 5 that she was angry at the officer who killed her only child but not at the police in general.
“He saw a little, Arab-looking kid, he wanted to take his life,” she said, adding that justice should be “very firm”. A police officer cannot take his gun and fire at our children, take our children’s lives,” she said.
Additional reporting by AP