Israel puts officer on trial who shot Arab with special needs

The Border Police officer suspected of causing the death of Iyad Halak will be tried for the offense of manslaughter.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

A policeman who shot and killed Iyad Halak, an Arab man with special needs, will be tried and charged with manslaughter.

Police stationed at the Lion’s Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 30 erroneously suspected Halak, 31, of attempting to carry out an attack.

He was carrying an object in his hand that appeared to them to be a weapon. When the forces called on him to stop he fled the scene. He was subsequently shot.

The Police’s Department for Internal Affairs on Wednesday informed the attorneys of the Border Police officer suspected of causing the death of Halak that he will be tried for the offense of manslaughter, subject to a hearing.

An additional case targeting the commander of the suspected policeman, who was also questioned in the incident, was closed after it was determined that he did not commit a criminal offense in his conduct.

The investigation indicates that Halak fled to an area and the officers pursued him. The suspected officer saw Halak in the corner of the compound and fired at him, even though his commander shouted at him “stop.”

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As a result of the first shooting, Halak was hit in the lower abdomen and fell to the ground. Immediately after the first shooting the commander shouted again “cease fire.”

At this point, more policemen entered the compound, and the suspected policeman shouted at Halak in Hebrew “do not move.” At the same time, one of the policemen asked Halak in Arabic, “where is the gun?”

Iyad, who was wounded by the first shooting, rose and pointed at a woman he knew and mumbled something.

In response, the policeman turned to the woman and asked her in Arabic, “where is the gun?” and she replied, “which gun?”

At this point, the suspected policeman fired another shot at Halak.

Internal Affairs stated that “the decision to consider prosecuting the shooting officer on suspicion of manslaughter was made after examining the evidence, the circumstances of the shooting, and an in-depth analysis of the legal aspects of the incident.”

Internal Affairs noted the fact that Halak did not pose any danger to the police and civilians who were at the scene, and that the police officer’s fired shots were not in accordance with police procedures, and he did not resort to more non-lethal alternatives.

On the other hand, the fact that the policeman carried out the shooting after suspicion arose that Halak was a terrorist, and the fact that the shooting was carried out during operational activity in a complex sector were also taken into account, Internal Affairs said.

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After the fatal shooting, Minister of Internal Security Amir Ohana announced that police officers will be trained to identify and work with people with special needs.

Ohana stated after the incident that he “shared in the pain of the Halak family” and expressed his “sorrow over the death of Iyad, a young person with special needs.”