Justice Ministry Set to Close Case Against Policeman Who Killed Ethiopian Israeli

In case that sparked fury in community, police find no evidence of crime by officer who fired at mentally disturbed man rushing him with a knife last month

File photo: Undated photo of Yehuda Biadga, who was shot dead by Israeli police in the central city of Bat Yam on January 18, 2019.
Biadga family

The investigators probing a police officer’s fatal shooting of an Ethiopian Israeli last month are set to close the case for lack of evidence of a crime, even though the officer hasn’t been questioned.

A source familiar with the investigation said the Justice Ministry’s unit that investigates police is about to conclude the probe, citing lack of evidence for criminal wrongdoing on the officer’s part. The officer shot dead 24-year-old Yehuda Biadga after the youngster ran toward him with a knife in his hand.

The head of the investigations department, Ibrahim Salman, met with Biadga’s father and two of his uncles on Thursday and told them the case is to be closed by Sunday, but gave them no further details on the final decision in the matter.

The investigators made do with the report filed by the officer who shot Biadga and testimonies from eye witnesses. If the department prosecutor doesn’t ask for further inquiries, the case will be closed, Salman said.

Biadja’s death sparked fury in the Ethiopian Israeli community, with thousands taking part in a stormy demonstration in Tel Aviv last week.

One of the witnesses to the shooting testified that the police officer was forced to act as he did, because Biadga had “lunged” toward him wielding a knife, and that had the officer hesitated to shoot him, he would have been hurt.

Biadga’s family had warned the police on the phone that he suffered from a mental disorder and hadn’t taken his medications, an official involved in the investigation said last month.

Biadga’s brother-in-law called the police hotline twice and asked police to come because of Biadja’s violent behavior. “He wants to kill his parents, he’s taken a kitchen knife, he wants to kill his mother,” the brother-in-law said, according to the official.

Biadga’s relatives said that in recent years he had been staying at his parents’ home, did not work, was taking pills for his mental disorder and was hospitalized because of it.

Biadga was registered with the social services and had been receiving medication on a regular basis.

His family complained bitterly about the conduct of the investigations department’s policemen at the meeting with Salman. They asked why the officer who killed Biadga hadn’t been questioned, why he fired at the center of Biadja’s torso and why he found it necessary to shoot twice.

After the meeting, the family’s lawyer, Tzahi Lasri, said: “The department received material showing clearly that the officer had violated the rules of engagement, beginning with not going through certain actions, through the firing, to failing to administer medical treatment.”