Two policemen punched a 24-year-old man in the face and used a taser gun on him during his arrest Friday overnight in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon.
A video of the incident shows the man cooperating with the police and holding his ID, but the police said the video only shows a portion of the incident and that the man resisted arrest and was violent towards the officers.
The incident began, the police say, when the officers approached the man for violating health regulations that require wearing a mask in public and that he refused to provide identification. The video footage and other details of the case will be referred at the initiative of the Israel Police to the Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit for investigation, the police added.
Footage of the incident, which was shared on social media, showed the police, one of whom a volunteer, confronting the man on the street while his identity card was in his hand. The man does not appear to be resisting arrest and his friend, who filmed the footage, is heard yelling, “Why are you hitting him? Take the ID card. He offered it to you.”
The video shows the police holding the suspect against the trunk of a car, after which one of them pulls out a taser gun and fires it at him. Within a few seconds, the two officers are seen holding the man on the ground, and as one officer repeatedly hits the man in the face, the other fires his taser again as the suspect yells at them to stop. His friend is heard saying, “You’ve beat him senseless. Look, he’s full of blood.”
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The suspect was detained and brought before a Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court judge on Saturday evening to have his detention extended. The police said that he injured the two police in the face and presented pictures of their injuries to the court. At the hearing, a police representative acknowledged that the suspect had not tried to flee the scene but said he had not cooperated with the police, that he talked on his cellphone and stepped aside, and continued to resist after he was handcuffed.
At the hearing, Magistrate’s Court Judge Anat Yahav called the incident serious, saying that it had escalated following a simple request by the police that the suspect and his friend wear masks. “I still can’t ignore the fact that suspect suffered real injuries and had to be treated at the hospital, and I also can’t ignore that he is a young man without a criminal record.”
The judge ordered the man released from detention, but the police asked to delay the order to enable them to appeal the decision.
The man’s lawyer, Dan Bouman, said that in approaching the man for not wearing a mask, the violation would justify a monetary fine. “The way in which the case escalated into major violence against him is irrational. There is no reason that a citizen, even if at first he refused to take his ID card out of his pocket, would within a matter of seconds or minutes find himself tased over and over with pulses of electricity and sustain punches to the face.”