Officer may face charges in killing of autistic Palestinian

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Parents of Eyah Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian man who was fatally shot by Israeli police, Khiri and mother Rana, talk during an interview In Jerusalem, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. The family says it is hopeful the officers will be prosecuted after finally confirming the existence of security-camera footage of the incident.(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

JERUSALEM – Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday recommended charging a police officer with reckless manslaughter in the deadly shooting of an autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem's Old City earlier this year.

The decision came nearly five months after the shooting of Eyad Hallaq. Hallaq's family, which had criticized the slow pace of the investigation and prosecutors' claim that security cameras in the area had malfunctioned, condemned Wednesday's decision. They said prosecutors should have filed much tougher charges.

The Israeli Justice Ministry said the officer, who was not identified, would be charged with reckless manslaughter, pending a hearing in which he can dispute the charges. Such hearings are standard procedure before indictments are filed. If convicted, the officer could face up to 12 years in prison.

His commander, who was also at the scene of the shooting, was not charged.

Hallaq’s family said the ministry’s decision was unacceptable.

“There is sufficient evidence to bring charges of premeditated murder against the two policemen,” said their lawyer, Jad Qadamani. “Eyad was intentionally killed by the police. We are considering the next step now.”

Hallaq, who was 32, was fatally shot just inside the Old City’s Lion’s Gate on May 30 as he was on his way to the special-needs institution that he attended.

The area is a frequent site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, and the Old City’s narrow streets are lined with hundreds of security cameras that are monitored by police. But as the investigation proceeded over the summer, prosecutors claimed that none of the cameras in the area had worked and there was no footage of the incident.