An Afula man who was under house arrest for a year after he was accused of assaulting a police officer was acquitted last Thursday, with the presiding judge ruling that it was actually the police officer who had used unnecessary force.
Nazareth Magistrate's Court Judge Carmela Haft ruled that from the beginning, she had believed the version of events presented by Kfir Jurno, 29, of Afula, rather than the testimony of the policeman and policewoman involved.
"It was the policeman who attacked [the defendant] and sprayed him [with pepper spray] unnecessarily, and it was the policewoman who spoke to him using crude language inappropriate for someone in uniform," Haft wrote.
Jurano was represented by Abed al-Majed Fahoum of the Public Defender's Office.
The incident occurred on July 10 of last year. After spending some time at a local pool with his girlfriend and another friend, the three made their way back to the Givat Hamoreh neighborhood where they live. There they encountered a policeman and policewoman, who had been called to break up a fight between several children.
Jurno said he was suddenly approached by the policewoman, who began speaking to him rudely, and the two began arguing. The policeman, who was nearby and heard the argument, came up to the two and sprayed Jurno in the face with pepper spray, he said.
Jurno fled the area, and two days later was arrested and charged with insulting a public servant and assaulting a police officer. Jurno had a previous conviction of assaulting an officer.
The policeman claimed that when he heard the argument between Jurno and the policewoman, he approached them and was cursed by the defendant. When he warned Jurno that he would be arrested, Jurno allegedly hit him and pushed him.
The policeman also claimed that Jurno had one hand behind his back, and having seen him carrying a beer bottle previously, feared that Jurno would attack him with it, which is why he sprayed the pepper spray.
During the trial, however, not only did Jurno's friends uphold his version of what transpired, but there were discrepancies between the testimonies of the policeman and policewoman about the incident.
Haft wrote in her ruling that she "was left with the impression that the relatively young policeman overreacted to the incident, and after using pepper spray unnecessarily, found himself in a situation in which he had to justify himself."
After the acquittal, Fahoum, Jurno's attorney, said: "This was an effort by the policeman to cover up their actions by slandering the accused. The court made that unequivocally clear."
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