'Are We in Afghanistan?' Judge Criticizes Israeli Police for Concealing Use of Taser Gun

Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni
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Tel Aviv District court in 2015 (illustration)
Tel Aviv District Court in 2015 (illustration)Credit: Ilan Assayag
Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni

An Israeli judge on Wednesday criticized police officers for trying to conceal evidence of using a taser gun during an arrest.

If police officers try to hide evidence, what will criminals say?” the judge asked a police representative during the suspect's hearing. “You are shaming the country. Are we in Afghanistan or a democracy?”

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In addition, during the suspect's remand hearing the officers said that the man had illegal marijuana in his possession, despite a medical prescription.

Judge Nachum Sternlicht of the Petah Tikva District Court ordered the man suspected of drug possession and violence released Wednesday after only one of the six officers during his arrest stated in their incident reports that a taser gun was used against the suspect.

At the hearing, it was discovered that the use of the taser was not recorded in the incident reports filed by the police officers at the scene, except for the one submitted by the officer who fired the stun gun. “How can a police officer who was a witness to its use and was present dare to ignore this matter and not to explicitly note it?” asked the judge. “This is an exceptional act that every police officer is required to mention. In my opinion, this is a most serious matter.”

The man was suspected of assaulting his partner, illegally possessing marijuana, and resisting arrest. His partner complained to the police that he threw bleach on her. Mutual complaints between the two had been filed previously.

The police also accused the suspect of illegal possessing marijuana, even though he had a valid medical permit for personal use of the drug. In a statement, a police spokesperson said that the man's lack of cooperation during his arrest led to the suspicion that the drugs were being held illegally.

At the end of the hearing, the judge ordered the man's release and that the case be sent to the Justice Ministry Department of Internal Police Investigations.

The police’s representative protested the judge’s criticism, and said after the hearing that he would file a complaint about what the judge said.

The suspect’s lawyer from the Public Defender’s Office, Roy Lang, said the court agreed not to extend the detention of his client after his request. "He suffered from harsh police brutality. He was shot by a taser without the police recording the incident. I’m very happy the court harshly criticized the police’s actions, and we will turn to the [Justice Ministry unit] to further investigate the matter.”

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