Court frees policeman who shot Ethiopian-Israeli

Charges reduced to ‘involuntary’ manslaughter.

July 16, 2019 05:33
2 minute read.
Ethiopian-Israelis protest throughout the country

Ethiopian-Israelis protest throughout the country. (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Two weeks after killing an Ethiopian-Israeli under questionable circumstances, the policeman who shot him was released from house arrest by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court.

At the same time, the Police Investigations Department (PID) finished its probe of the case and transferred its conclusions to the state prosecution.

While some had initially called for a murder charge, and the PID had been seeking a manslaughter charge, the final recommendation to the prosecution is for an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Surprisingly, and against the PID’s request, the court only prohibited the policeman from returning to his precinct in the Haifa area, but did not prohibit him from entering other police precincts.

This, along with his not yet being formally suspended, has also enraged critics who say the case is a flagship example of discrimination against Ethiopian-Israelis.

According to multiple associates of Tekah, the off-duty policemen injected himself into a low-key dispute and escalated it by shooting Tekah when he felt provoked by the group.

Supporters of the policeman have pointed to leaked evidence that Tekah or another person in the group allegedly threw rocks at the policeman, making him feel endangered.

They further allege that the policeman fired at the ground, but that the bullet ricocheted killing Tekah.

Even if these more favorable versions of the incident are true, the policeman could still be charged with involuntary manslaughter, as his decision to pull out and fire a gun in close proximity to Tekah may have been extremely dangerous and unreasonable.

On the spectrum of charges between manslaughter (more severe) and negligent homicide (less severe), involuntary manslaughter is a newly created category for acting dangerously with clear criminal intent in a way that leads to killing someone, though there was no intent to kill.

In contrast, murder requires specific intent to kill the person who died, manslaughter requires a general intent to kill someone, and negligent homicide is a killing resulting from someone who acted irresponsibly, but not with dangerous criminal intent.

Involuntary manslaughter still carries a maximum prison sentence of 12 years, though courts usually ignore the maximum sentence with such crimes, meaning an actual sentence could be as little as one to two years.

The case has rocked the country, with the Ethiopian-Israeli community accusing the PID of whitewashing the investigation and leaking favorable material to help the policeman’s image.

Meanwhile, the policeman is now in hiding with his parents somewhere in the center of the country – under police protection – to avoid the possibility of being attacked by angry Ethiopian-Israelis.

Right after the incident, he was arrested and brought to court in handcuffs.

But shortly after the investigation delved deeper into the facts, he was moved to house arrest.

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