Off-duty police officer who shot Ethiopian-Israeli teen dead will face lesser charge


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The off-duty Israeli police officer who fatally shot an Ethiopian-Israeli teenager in a Haifa-area park will be charged with negligent homicide rather than manslaughter, the higher charge the victim’s family was seeking.

The Israeli Prosecutor’s Office and the Police Internal Investigations Department told the family of Solomon Tekah, who was killed at 19, of its decision on Tuesday.

An investigation found in July that the officer fired at the ground and that the bullet ricocheted into Tekah’s body.

The officer said that he shot his gun after feeling threatened while attempting to break up a street fight in the suburb of Kiryat Haim, in northern Israel, on June 30. The teens involved in the altercation threw stones at the officer and injured him before he used his gun, according to the Justice Ministry.

The name of the officer, whose family was with him at the park when the shooting took place, remains under a gag order.

The Tekah family had urged the prosecutors to charge the officer with manslaughter rather than negligent homicide. Its attorney, Zion Amir, told Ynet that the family is disappointed with the decision and feel as if Solomon “was killed for the second time.”

“The decision was made after a thorough examination of the incident, including the fact that the officer opened fire not in accordance with police protocols he was well aware of, and did not take any other alternatives measures which were available to him,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

The officer will have a pre-indictment hearing, where he can address the accusations, before final charges are made.

Members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community and their supporters demonstrated for two days following Tekah’s funeral. The protests at times turned violent.

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