State indicts 2 police officers for alleged negligent causing of detainee's suicide

Pshycologist had determined that prisoner should be under observation; officers allegedly failed to take cautionary measures.

Man in prison 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Man in prison 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)

The Police Investigation Department of the Justice Ministry filed an indictment Tuesday with the Haifa Magistrate’s Court against two policemen for negligently causing the suicidal death of a detainee under their supervision.

Samir Isawi and Michael Cohen served as policemen in the detention center of the Haifa police station.
On January 8, 2012, Michael Tzokolmin, being held there following his arrest and questioning under suspicion of committing a crime, attempted to commit suicide with a knife in his possession, the indictment said.
After his interrogation, he was taken to the hospital, where he underwent a physical and psychological evaluation.
In his hospital release documents, a psychologist determined that Tzokolmin was competent to remain in detention under conditions of being observed. According to the indictment, he was returned to detention during the night, where Isawi, on guard duty that night, processed him.
The indictment said that Isawi, contrary to standard operating rules of procedure and with full knowledge of Tzokolmin’s condition from viewing his hospital release order, failed, prior to admitting him, either to remove the laces from Tzokolmin’s pants or to get special instructions regarding the conditions of his detention.
At 6:30 a.m., Cohen arrived to replace Isawi for the morning watch. The indictment noted that standard rules when dealing with a detainee requiring extra attentive care require a review of the detainee’s status every 15 minutes both in person and via video monitor footage of the cell, but said that Cohen failed to do so or to ensure that another officer performed the check.
Tzokolmin was found dead in his cell at 9:10 a.m., after he hanged himself from the laces of his pants, the indictment said.
A statement from the Justice Ministry said that the Police Investigation Department had transferred its file to the police disciplinary authority regarding the actions of the commander of the detention center and the relevant duty officer.