Israeli Cop Who Shot Dead Autistic Palestinian Faces Trial: 'He Posed No Danger'

Eyad al-Hallaq, 32, was shot in Jerusalem by Border Police who mistook him for a terrorist near his special needs school in May ■ Case against commanding officer was closed out of lack of guilt

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Eyad Hallaq
Eyad HallaqCredit: Courtesy of the family
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

A border policeman who killed an autistic Palestinian in May could stand trial for reckless homicide pending a hearing, the Justice Ministry announced Wednesday.

Eyad al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, was shot dead on his way to the special needs school that he attended and worked at.

A case against the border policeman's commanding officer was closed out of lack of guilt.

>> 'He's disabled,' the caregiver screamed. 'I'm with her,' Eyad cried. The cop opened fire anyway

A statement from the Justice Ministry unit that investigated the affair said that "The deceased posed no danger to police and civilians in the area," and that the officer who shot him did so against orders.

A description of the incident written by the Justice Ministry unit said that the officers suspected Hallaq was a terrorist "in light of certain characteristics of his behavior." Following a chase, the Border Police officer who may be charged shot Hallaq, despite the fact that his commanding officer told him to stop. According to the statement, he shot Hallaq again after speaking with him. Hallaq's counselor was also at the scene.

The statement said that "one of the policemen asked Iyad in Arabic, 'where is the gun?' and Iyad, who was wounded from the first shot, got up and pointed towards the woman he knew and mumbled something. In response to that, the policeman turned to the woman and asked her in Arabic, 'where is the gun?' and she responded, 'what gun?' At this stage, the suspected policeman fired another shot at Iyad."

Eyewitnesses said after the killing that Hallaq's counselor from the school ran into garbage room where he was shot and yelled "he's disabled, he's disabled," at the police in Hebrew and Arabic.

Hallaq's parents have petitioned the High Court of Justice to conclude the investigation of the case and put the two police officers involved on trial.

The suspect's lawyers said on Wednesday that they were certain he would not stand trial after the hearing, arguing that the case was "a tragedy, but not a criminal offense."

Following news of the suspect's possible trial, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said the killing was "a terrible tragedy," and that alongside support for law enforcement, "we must ensure that there is no deviation from basic moral standards."

Lawmaker Youself Jabareen, a member of the Joint List alliance of predominately Arab parties, meanwhile said that "shooting a person in cold blood in a garbage room is not 'reckless homicide.' It's murder. Justice for Eyad al-Hallaq."

In July, the Justice Ministry unit investigating the case said there was no security camera footage from the shooting as the cameras in the garbage room where Hallaq was shot were not working.

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