Reenactment of Killing of Autistic Palestinian Called Off Due to Media Presence

The reenactment of the Border Police shooting of Eyad Hallaq, a Palestinian with special needs, had been due to take place late Saturday night

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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One of the Border Police officers at the the police misconduct unit.
One of the Border Police officers at the Justice Ministry's police misconduct unit, June, 6, 2020. The officer and a colleague are implicated in the shooting death of Eyad Hallaq.Credit: Emil Salman
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit canceled the reenactment early Sunday of the fatal May 30 shooting by a Border Police officer of Eyad Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian with special needs, near the Lion’s Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The reenactment had been planned for the middle of the night between Saturday and Sunday as part of the investigation of the two officers, who are suspected of misconduct in the incident. It was called off minutes before it was due to begin due to a media presence at the scene.

The two officers had already arrived with their parents. The reenactment had been planned with security to be provided by a contingent from the Border Police, out of concern that local residents would congregate at the scene. According to a source, it was canceled due to concern that it would be filmed by the press contingent there. The reenactment was scheduled for the middle of the night even though the actual shooting was carried out during the day.

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The two officers have differing accounts of the incident, in which Hallaq, who attended and worked at a special needs school just meters away from where he was shot, was killed. The misconduct unit has not yet questioned the two suspects together.

In their initial interrogation, the officers said they began to chase Hallaq after Jerusalem district police, who spotted the Palestinian first, reported that he was a suspected armed terrorist. “The suspicion was that he was a lone-wolf terrorist and we acted in accordance with the rules,” one of the two said. In the course of the chase, several shots were fired at Hallaq, and he ran to take cover in a trash room, where he was shot by the second officer, according to a source.

Eyad HallaqCredit: Courtesy of the family

While the more senior of the two officers, who was in command at the time, claims that he ordered him to hold his fire when Hallaq went into a trash room, the other officer, who had joined the force only months earlier and had just completed basic training, claimed that he didn’t hear any such order and fired after Hallaq made a suspicious move.

Members of Hallaq’s family denied that he was in possession of a toy gun at the time of the incident and said he was not capable of harming anyone. The family consented to have an autopsy performed after it was agreed that a Palestinian pathologist would also be present.

“Additional investigation, including confronting the two [officers] and reenacting the events, is necessary,” Oron Schwartz and Yogev Narkis, the lawyers for the more senior officer, said, “as our client is insisting that he ordered holding fire before the fatal shooting. As long as the police misconduct unit doesn’t act to verify this account, our client will insist on his version being examined by a lie detector. The results of a lie detector test are not in fact admissible in court, but they are an accepted investigative tool and are sometimes decisive in having the investigative authorities and the prosecution make decisions.”

Efrat Nahmani Bar, who represents the other officer, declined to comment.

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