An Israeli police officer who shot dead a severely autistic Palestinian man earlier this year may stand trial for reckless manslaughter. Iyad Hallaq, 32, was shot in the chest on May 30, in the Old City of Jerusalem after he ran away in a panic when he heard Israeli soldiers shouting at him.
His carer, Warda Abu Hadid, tried frantically to alert the soldiers to the fact that Hallaq was severely autistic and did not understand what was happening, but her warnings fell on deaf ears. Israeli police officers later said that they gunned down Hallaq because they suspected that he was carrying a gun and he ran away when they ordered him to stop.
Prosecutors say they may file "reckless manslaughter" charges for an Israeli police officer who shot & killed a Palestinian man with autism in occupied East Jerusalem.
Police said Iyad Hallaq was "suspicious" and had a weapon. He was unarmed and walking to a special needs class. pic.twitter.com/qDBLzg7qT0
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 21, 2020
Though the decision to prosecute has taken five months, the officer who fired the fatal shots will now be charged with reckless manslaughter and face a hearing where he can dispute the charges before the case goes to trial. If convicted, the officer could face up to 12 years in prison. The officer’s commander, who was at the scene of the shooting, has not been charged.
Hallaq’s family criticized the slow pace of the investigations and questioned the prosecutor’s claims that security cameras in the area had not been working at the time of the shooting.
She shouted "I can't breathe", showing solidarity with African-Americans against #racism…
Israeli police arrested Zeina Barbar, whose father has been in Israeli jails since she was born, during a protest against the murder of Iyad Hallaq. #BLM #PalestinianLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/OcSwkAoh7V
— Aya Isleem 🇵🇸 #Gaza (@AyaIsleemEn) June 9, 2020
His parents are concerned that their son’s killing will be whitewashed, especially after the camera malfunction claim. Police in Israel are usually very quick to release security-camera footage to the public when their own officers or other Israelis are attacked. The 32-year-old’s relatives also condemned the decision not to prosecute the commander as “unacceptable”.
The family’s lawyer, Jad Qadamani, criticized the prosecution service, according to a report by Associated Press. Qadamani has claimed that the prosecution should have filed much tougher charges because there was sufficient evidence to charge both the officer and commander with premeditated murder.
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) June 10, 2020
The Israeli Justice Ministry said the recommendation to prosecute the soldier was made after considering all the evidence, including eyewitness accounts.
“The killing of Palestinian civilians is a regular occurrence. It is the devastating routine with which Palestinians have been forced to co-exist for many years and for which Israel was never ever held accountable,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud wrote in a recent article.
After he was shot once, an officer asked Iyad Hallaq's teacher, who accompanied him, "Where's the gun?" The teacher asked "What gun?" and shot again. Iyad's mother collapsed ahead of her meeting with the olive. "They destroyed my family in minutes." pic.twitter.com/IFgkyu9Dty
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) October 21, 2020
“The cold-blooded murder of Iyad Hallaq might not have received much attention if it were not for the fact that it took place five days following the similarly heartbreaking murder of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, at the hands of American police,” Baroud added.
Indeed, parallels were drawn between Hallaq’s killing and that of George Floyd in Minneapolis, prompting local demonstrations against police violence similar to those seen in America.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)