Indictment Recommended in Killing of Autistic Man

The father of Eyah Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian man who was fatally shot by Israeli police. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday recommended charging a police officer with reckless manslaughter in the deadly shooting of an autistic Palestinian man in Yerushalayim’s Old City earlier this year.

The decision came nearly five months after the shooting of Eyad Hallaq. Hallaq’s family, which had criticized the slow pace of the investigation and prosecutors’ claim that security cameras in the area had malfunctioned, condemned Wednesday’s decision. They said prosecutors should have filed much tougher charges.

The Israeli Justice Ministry said the officer, who was not identified, would be charged with reckless manslaughter, pending a hearing in which he can dispute the charges. Such hearings are standard procedure before indictments are filed. If convicted, the officer could face up to 12 years in prison.

His commander, who was also at the scene of the shooting, was not charged.

Hallaq’s family said the ministry’s decision was unacceptable.

“There is sufficient evidence to bring charges of premeditated murder against the two policemen,” said their lawyer, Jad Qadamani. “We are considering the next step now.”

Hallaq, who was 32, was fatally shot just inside the Old City’s Lion’s Gate on May 30 as he was on his way to the special-needs institution that he attended.

The area is a frequent site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

According to accounts at the time, Hallaq was shot after failing to heed calls to stop and running away. Two members of Israel’s paramilitary Border Police chased Hallaq and shot him.

In Wednesday’s statement, the Justice Ministry said that after the officer shot Hallaq the first time, he shouted at him in Arabic “don’t move.”

The ministry said the recommendation to prosecute was made after considering eyewitness accounts and other evidence.

“All the circumstances of the incident were considered, including the fact that the deceased did not pose any threat to the police officers or the civilians at the scene, and that the police officer fired a shot not in accordance with police orders, that were well known to him, and didn’t adopt more proportionate alternatives that were at his disposal,” it said.