Father of Police Shooting Victim Confronts Chief

Sami al-Jaar was shot by a police officer in December 2015, sparking widespread protests.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaking in December 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

The father of a young man who was shot dead by police last year in the Negev Bedouin town of Rahat confronted Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich on Monday, protesting the closing of the case against the officer suspected of the shooting and demanding that he be dismissed from the force.

The confrontation took place outside the Rahat police station, after Khaled al-Jaar was barred from bringing a picture of Sami al-Jaar into the station for a police-community relations event.

“They tell me today the Justice Ministry’s department for investigating police officers doesn’t have enough evidence. But I tell you, the officer’s bullet is in my son’s body. This murder will not pass quietly in Rahat. Everyone saw it. I want people to continue saying good things about the police, but that officer is still in the police even though he killed,” Jaar said.

Jaar said the officer who shot his son lied when he said his gun had discharged by accident. “That’s not true. I want you to check,” he told Alsheich.

“If you want to come to my house, you are welcome. Justice must be done first of all. You have to strongly consider this. That officer cannot wear the uniform and continue serving,” Jaar added.

The police conducted community relations events at a number of stations on Monday throughout the country. Hundreds of children attended the event in Rahat, where officers demonstrated the work of a police robot, a police helicopter and a dog that was trained to sniff out explosives.

Officers present at the confrontation urged Alsheich to end the conversation, but he insisted on responding to Jaar.

“I’m glad you came here. We see the pain in your face. There are things that don’t have to become a confrontation between citizens and the police. The unit that investigates the police is authorized to investigate and we will not stand in the way of any criminal proceeding. Whatever happens in this proceeding, the police will respect. The police need the unit that investigates the police. A police officer also needs a police officer,” Alsheich told Jaar, whose son was 20 when he died.

Alsheich added that mistakes are sometimes made. “There are many incidents going back years with many communities of minorities and new immigrants. We have a great challenge.”

After the confrontation, Jaar told Haaretz that he felt that Alsheich had avoided answering him.

“I talked about significant steps that I demand be taken in the police and he answered me about criminal proceedings.”

Two weeks ago, Jaar filed a petition in the High Court of Justice demanding that the officer who shot and killed his son be dismissed from the force. The petition names Alsheich, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and the officer who shot Sami al-Jaar, according to the Justice Ministry’s investigative unit.

It was filed after the police turned down Jaar’s request to suspend the officer.

In February the Justice Ministry unit announced that it was closing the case against the officer “for lack of sufficient evidence.”

According to evidentiary material that was presented to Haaretz, recovered from the scene were a bullet with traces of the victim’s blood and fibers matching the clothes he was wearing when he was shot. Ballistics tests showed the bullet came from the officer’s gun.

Sami al-Jaar’s death in December 2015 sparked widespread protests and a one-day strike in Arab communities throughout the country. A month later, the Justice Ministry unit that investigates suspected police misconduct questioned five officers who were involved in the incident under caution, meaning that they might be charged with a crime. At the end of an undercover investigation an officer was arrested for unlawfully discharging his weapon, a charge to which he admitted.

In a statement, the Justice Ministry unit said the officer changed his story a number of times and also gave false testimony. The officer was transferred to a desk job in the district commander’s office for the duration of the investigation.