אירוע הירי במזרח ירושלים: איאד אלחלאק פלסטיני בעל צרכים מיוחדים הוא ההרוג
Iyad Halak was shot by police in Jerusalem in May
Iyad Halak was shot by police in Jerusalem in May

Cop who killed Palestinian with autism faces charges

Justice Ministry says unnamed Border Police officer will be charged with reckless killing in death of 32-year-old East Jerusalem resident Iyad Halak in May, pending hearing to dispute charges; victim's family say he should face tougher indictment

Associated Press, Ynet |
Published: 10.21.20 , 15:38
Prosecutors on Wednesday recommended charging a police officer with reckless killing in the deadly shooting of a Palestinian man with autism in Jerusalem earlier this year.
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  • The decision came nearly five months after the shooting of 32-year-old Iyad Halak, a resident of East Jerusalem, who had been heading to his school for students with special needs when he was killed.
    אירוע הירי במזרח ירושלים: איאד אלחלאק פלסטיני בעל צרכים מיוחדים הוא ההרוגאירוע הירי במזרח ירושלים: איאד אלחלאק פלסטיני בעל צרכים מיוחדים הוא ההרוג
    Iyad Halak was shot by police in Jerusalem in May
    Halak's family, which had criticized the slow pace of the investigation and prosecutors' claim that security cameras in the area had malfunctioned, condemned the decision. They said prosecutors should have filed much tougher charges.
    The Justice Ministry said the officer, who was not identified, would be charged with reckless killing, pending a hearing in which he can dispute the charges.
    Such hearings are standard procedure before indictments are filed. If convicted, the officer could face up to 12 years in prison.
    His commander, who was also at the scene of the shooting, was not charged.
    Halak's family said the ministry's decision was unacceptable.
    "There is sufficient evidence to bring charges of premeditated murder against the two policemen," said their lawyer, Jad Qadamani.
    "Iyad was intentionally killed by the police. We are considering the next step now."
    משפחת אלחלאקמשפחת אלחלאק
    Iyad Halak, left, with his family
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    Halak was fatally shot just inside the Old City's Lion's Gate on May 30 as he was on his way to the special-needs institution that he attended daily.
    The area is a frequent site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, and the Old City's narrow streets are lined with hundreds of security cameras that are monitored by police.
    But as the investigation proceeded over the summer, prosecutors claimed that none of the cameras in the area had worked and there was no footage of the incident.
    The police initially said officers believed Halak was holding "a suspicious object that looked like a pistol," and opened fire when he failed to obey orders to stop. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld later said no weapon was found.
    הפגנה מול ביתו של אוחנה בתל אביבהפגנה מול ביתו של אוחנה בתל אביב
    Israelis protest outside the Tel Aviv home of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana after Iyad Halak was shot dead by Jerusalem police
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    According to accounts at the time, Halak was shot after failing to heed calls to stop, and then running away.
    Two members of the Border Police then chased Halak into a nook and shot him as he cowered next to a garbage bin.
    In Wednesday's statement, the Justice Ministry said that after the officer shot Halak the first time, he shouted at him in Arabic "don't move."
    Another officer asked him in Arabic "where is the pistol."
    המסלול בו נורה איאד אלחלאק בעיר העתיקה בירושליםהמסלול בו נורה איאד אלחלאק בעיר העתיקה בירושלים
    The area through which police chased Iyad Halak
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    The wounded Halak pointed to a woman whom he knew and muttered something. The officer then turned to the woman and asked her in Arabic, "Where is the gun?"
    She replied, "What gun?" At that point, the officer under investigation fired again at Halak.
    The woman mentioned in the statement appears to be Halak's teacher, who was with him that morning.
    At the time of the shooting, she told an Israeli TV station that she had repeatedly called out to police that he was "disabled."
    ההפגנה בירושליםההפגנה בירושלים
    Israelis protest in Jerusalem following the killing of Iyad Halak by a police officer
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    The ministry said the recommendation to prosecute was made after considering eyewitness accounts and other evidence.
    "All the circumstances of the incident were considered, including the fact that the deceased did not pose any threat to the police officers or the civilians at the scene, and that the police officer fired a shot not in accordance with police orders, that were well known to him, and didn't adopt more proportionate alternatives that were at his disposal," it said.
    Halak's parents had expressed concerns the killing would be whitewashed, especially after the alleged camera malfunction. In cases of attacks against Israeli security forces, police often quickly release security-camera footage to the public.
    The shooting of Halak drew comparisons to the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and prompted a series of demonstrations against police violence.
    The uproar crossed Israeli-Palestinian lines and drew Jewish protesters as well, and Israeli leaders, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, expressed regret over the shooting.
    Palestinians and human rights groups say Israel has a poor record of prosecuting cases of police violence against Palestinians.
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