Palestinian Charged With Negligent Homicide After Cops Shoot His Cousin

Police initially said that the men were planning to carry out a car-ramming attack, but later backtracked, then trying to accuse driver of manslaughter for police shooting.

Ali Nimr, cousin of Mustafa Nimr who was killed by Israeli border police in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, in court, September 8, 2016.

Ali Nimr, a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem, was indicted on Thursday for his alleged part in the lethal shooting of his cousin, Mustafa Nimr, by Israeli police officers last week.

The indictment, filed in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, charges Nimr, 25, a resident of the Shoafat refugee camp in northeastern Jerusalem, of criminally negligent homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driving without a license and driving without insurance.

Nimr was driving a vehicle police shot at on the morning of September 4 near Shoafat, killing his cousin Mustafa, 27. Ali Nimr was moderately injured. The police had set up a routine roadblock, and said Nimr had refused their orders to stop and had driven at them at high speed.

Police initially said they thought the two men were planning to carry out a car-ramming terrorist attack against the police, but a day later retracted their claim and said that they were looking into other possibilities.

The police then accused Ali Nimr of manslaughter and traffic violations, and of being responsible for his cousin’s death, saying that his reckless driving prompted police suspicions.

“When they reached the roadblock, a commercial vehicle that had been stopped by the police stood there and began to drive in reverse according to the police officers’ orders, states the indictment. The defendant then “stepped on the gas pedal with great force, passed the commercial vehicle wildly and started driving quickly.”

The indictment states that the police signaled to Nimr time after time using a flashlight to stop. They called out to him in Hebrew and Arabic that he must stop, and when he did not follow these instructions they fired two sponge-tipped bullets, one of which hit the front windshield.

The prosecution says Nimr broke through the police roadblock while driving fast and did not stop despite all the warnings and other means used. “In response, after the police officers at the roadblock felt their lives were in danger, the policemen were forced to fire at the car.”

As a result of the shooting the defendant was wounded and his cousin died at the scene as a result of the wound to his head, states the indictment. 

Nimr is accused of hasty and negligent actions by driving under the influence of alcohol and dangerous drugs, with his senses dulled and without ever having received a driver’s license. “In his actions, the defendant negligently caused the death of a person,” reads the indictment.

The Justice Ministry’s department that investigates police officers is investigating the incident, and has given it priority, a source within the Justice Ministry told Haaretz last week. 

Last week, at a hearing on extending Nimr’s pre-trial detention, Judge Shaul Gabai Richter said there was no probable cause to support the police’s allegations of manslaughter, saying there was “a significant gap” in evidence supporting the connection between Ali Nimr and his role in his cousin’s death.

The judge extended Nimr’s remand by only one day on Monday, accusing the police of not investigating the shooting seriously since the previous court session.

He stressed that an autopsy had concluded that Mustafa Nimr died after being shot by the police, adding that he found the police conduct in the case “bizarre.”

“The behavior of the respondent in the vehicle was dangerous in itself and he bears certain responsibility for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” the judge said.

“But there is a considerable distance between the behavior of the respondent and the death of his cousin, and no basis for ascribing to him responsibility for the death of the deceased, not even during the arrest phase.”