Member of the public who shared video of Charlie Hebdo murder on Facebook apologises to victim's family

The man who videoed a the murder of a police officer during the Charlie Hebdo massacre now regrets sharing the footage online, saying he never expected it to be broadcast so widely.

Engineer Jordi Mir told The Associated Press he posted the video out of fear and a "stupid reflex" fostered by years on social media.

"I was completely panicked," he said in an exclusive interview across from the Parisian boulevard where the officer was shot to death by terrorists on Wednesday.

"I had to speak to someone," Mir said. "I was alone in my flat. I put the video on Facebook. That was my error."

He said he left the video on Facebook for as little as 15 minutes before thinking the better of it and taking it down.

But the footage had already been shared across the site and someone uploaded it to Youtube. Less than an hour after  Mir removed the video from his page, he was startled to find it playing across his television screen.

In its unedited form, the 42-second film shows two masked gunmen – brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi – as they walk toward a prone police officer, later identified as 42-year-old Ahmed Merabet.

"You want to kill us?" one of the brothers says as he strides toward the wounded officer.

"No, it's OK, boss," Merabet says, raising his hand in an apparent plea for mercy.

Then he was shot in the head.

As police rushed to the scene, Mir downloaded the video to his computer and then to a removable disk, which he handed to officers.

Then, he uploaded the footage to Facebook – and to the world.

Mir, who is in his 50s, could not explain what pushed him to share thevideo with his 2,500 Facebook friends.

"There's no answer," he said. 

"I take a photo – a cat – and I put it on Facebook. It was the same stupid reflex," he said.

The video's republication by media organisations around the world has anguished Merabet's family.

"How dare you take that video and broadcast it?" Merabet's brother Malek asked journalists on Saturday. "I heard his voice. I recognised him. I saw him get slaughtered and I hear him get slaughtered every day."

Mir wanted Merabet's family to know he was "very sorry," saying that he had turned down offers to buy the footage and that he wanted media organisations to blur Merabet's image before running it. But many, he said, just broadcast the unedited footage without permission.

The AP received Mir's authorisation to run the video on condition that it cut the scene of the officer's death – standard AP practice.

Mir said that one official told him the video helped galvanize French public opinion.

"For me, the policeman killed, it's like a war photo," Mir said at one point, comparing it to famed photographer Robert Capa's controversial picture of a soldier being shot dead during the Spanish Civil War.

Nevertheless, Mir said that, if he could do it all again, he would have kept the video off Facebook.

"On Facebook, there's no confidentiality," he said. "It's a lesson for me."

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