Sheinbein’s lawyer: Prison shoot-out was avoidable

Attorney Orit Hayun said her office had tried to notify the Prisons Service that Sheinbein was in serious emotional distress.

February 25, 2014 01:39
2 minute read.
Samuel Sheinbein

Samuel Sheinbein pleads guilty in Tel Aviv court, September 2, 1999. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The attorney of Samuel Sheinbein, the convicted murderer who shot and wounded several guards in Rimonim Prison before being killed, said Sunday’s tragedy could have been prevented had a warning from her office been heeded.

Attorney Orit Hayun said her office had tried to notify the Prisons Service that Sheinbein was in serious emotional distress.

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“When he called on Sunday, it was clear that his life was in danger. He sounded like he was saying goodbye,” she said.

A representative of the Prisons Service acknowledged on Monday that it had received the warning, but said that it was not Hayun herself who contacted the agency but rather someone from her office. The representative said that if she had called herself, perhaps the incident could have been prevented.

A comprehensive play-byplay of the shoot-out has still not been determined. However, the prison agency has said a police negotiation unit tried for an hour to talk to Sheinbein, before the inmate came out of the bathroom where he’d barricaded himself and began descending a staircase while firing on the response team with a pistol. At this point, the officers opened fire and killed Sheinbein, the agency said.

Police and the Prisons Service said on Monday they still had not determined how Sheinbein got a pistol inside the prison.

Central District police, which is investigating the shooting, said that the pistol Sheinbein used was a long-barreled Colt. A police spokeswoman said the pistol was not a revolver, and she could not specify what the caliber was. She added that the pistol was very old, and was a type that has been out of service for police for decades.

A former top officer in the Israel Police hostage negotiation unit said that he had spoken to former colleagues about Sunday’s events, and that according to protocol, there would have been no reason for them to open fire if Sheinbein hadn’t begun shooting at them.

“They tried negotiating with him for an hour; that’s not a lot of time. We had negotiations that went on for six, seven hours before a decision was made to move in. Negotiating is always your first tool, and you avoid making decisions that will escalate the decision,” the officer said, adding, “[Sheinbein] escalated the situation and left them no choice.”

Speaking to reporters from the Israeli press on Monday, Sheinbein’s parents wished a speedy recovery to the wounded and expressed sadness and astonishment at what had taken place.

Doctors from Kfar Saba’s Meir Medical Center said Monday that there had been marked improvements in the condition of two guards who were severely wounded in the shooting. One guard, Hilal Bisan, was hospitalized in critical condition but is now stable and communicating with his doctors. The condition of another wounded guard has been upgraded from serious to satisfactory.

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