Case Against Police Who Hit Autistic Boy on Lag BaOmer Closed

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Department for Internal Investigations of the Police decided Monday to close the case against the policemen who allegedly were seen beating a chareidi youth with disabilities last Lag BaOmer in Yerushalayim.

The incident occurred the night before Lag BaOmer when a police patrol approached a group around a bonfire in the Mekor Baruch neighborhood in Yerushalayim. Postings on social media said the patrol was concerned with the size of the bonfire; because of the extreme heat Wednesday, officials had asked that bonfires not exceed a meter and a half, and this one apparently did.

At one point, the footage showed, police approached a 23-year-old man, who, it turns out, suffers from autism and is a student in a yeshivah for students with disabilities. Several versions of the footage show officers beating him, and the helpless youth flailing about. Police arrested the youth, but then released him to the custody of a member of the yeshivah’s staff.

The footage generated widespread condemnation both within the chareidi community and farther afield, and an investigation was opened.

On Monday, the case against these police officers was closed. An official statement said: “After investigating the case, including investigating the police officers involved and examining the evidence, the police decided to transfer the case to the police discipline department for the purpose of producing lessons in dealing with the police in meeting people with special needs.

“At the same time, the DIP concluded that there was insufficient evidence regarding allegations of excessive use of force for the purpose of detention,” the police statement adds.

The B’Tsalmo organization, which filed a formal complaint with the DIP immediately after the incident, said in response to the closing of the case: “There seems to be a free-for-all when the chareidi community is in question, and of people with special needs in particular.

“It’s no secret that there have been, and will be, more such conflicts. Instead of the police learning a lesson, all policemen now know that if you hit those who are helpless, you will not be punished.”