Israeli Police Officer Shoots Dead Mentally Unstable Man Who Stabbed Him

The officer was released after being questioned by the Justice Ministry for killing the 30-year-old man, whose psychiatric history was known to police

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The scene where mentally ill Shirel Haburain was shot dead by a policeman in Rosh Ha'ayin, central Israel, April 30, 2020.
The scene where mentally ill Shirel Haburain was shot dead by a policeman in Rosh Ha'ayin, central Israel, April 30, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

A police officer shot and killed a man who stabbed him in the central Israeli city of Rosh Ha’ayin on Thursday.

The policeman, who is suspected of firing his gun without justification, was questioned as a criminal suspect later in the day by the Justice Ministry department for investigating police officers. He was released after questioning with restrictions on his movement, and was ordered to stay away from police stations. 

When the policeman was asked why he shot the man – identified as Shirel Habura – so many times, the officer said he felt his life was in danger after the man attacked him with a knife. Security cameras recorded most of the incident, in which Habura can be seen attacking the officer, it seems with a knife, while the policeman runs away from him. Next, the officer seems to confront Habura, who seems to knock the officer down, before getting up again, when he seems to shoot Habura a number of times while he is still lying on the ground – killing him. 

The officer’s lawyer, Sagi Blumenfeld, said that “the video clip distributed by the media speaks for itself. In light of the immediate and concrete danger to his life, the police officer was left with no choice but to fire at the deceased man. If the officer has not acted to protect his life according to the law, the news broadcasts would have been reporting on a completely different event. If only there had been a different end to this tragic incident.”

Habura had been released from a psychiatric hospital six months ago and has been indicted twice for violent behavior in recent years.

Police sources said Habura’s mother had called the station earlier and said her son had a knife and was about to slaughter the household pets.

Officers rushed to the site and encountered Habura in the street.

A neighbor said Habura’s sister shouted at the officers: “Shoot him in the legs, why did you shoot him in the heart?”

One neighbor said: “Even if he came at him with a knife, the policemen knew he wasn’t right in his head.”

“The day before yesterday I went to the police to file a complaint," Habura’s mother said. "The investigating officer didn’t believe me, he told me to go to Geha (a mental health center). At Geha they told me to go to the police. The police said they’d only take him if he was violent. Even if he stabbed a policeman, why didn’t they neutralize him?”

“Today my wife called the police,” Habura’s father said. “The policeman asked the boy what he wanted to do. My boy told him – ‘I want to stab the cat.’ The policeman told me ‘your boy is violent.’ I told him that doesn’t count as violence. Meanwhile the boy got into a frenzy, saw the policeman, went into the kitchen and took out a knife. The policeman saw it and fired at him. My boy ran and the policeman shot him several times.”

In 2012 Habura was indicted for attacking his mother and brother in their home. Habura, who confessed as part of a plea bargain, had hurled a glass table onto the floor and fled the scene. The Magistrate’s Court issued him a restraining order in a bid to protect his mother, but he violated it and returned to her house, refusing to leave.

A policeman who came to the house asked him to accompany him, but the defendant kicked him. The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court sentenced him to six months’ suspended sentence for that incident.

A year later, Habura was charged with other acts of violence, including attacking policemen. The case was closed in 2014 following a psychiatric opinion that found him unfit to stand trial.

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