The Jerusalem District Court acquitted Shmuel Yehezkel, an Israeli border policeman, from charges of manslaughter today. Yehezkel was accused of killing Samir Dari, a Palestinian resident of Al Isawiyya neighborhood in east Jerusalem in November 2005.
Dari was killed when the policeman shot him in the back at close range. The Israeli police stated that Dari was shot as the police were chasing a car thief in the French Hill neighborhood in Jerusalem.
The indictment, filed in January 2006, indicated that Yehezkel fired at Dari at close range.
Yehezkel claimed that the shooting was in self defense and stated in the trial the he and other policemen “were attacked by a crowd at the entrance of the village”, Israeli Ynetnews reported. The police also claimed that the crowd attempted to grab a detainee who was in their vehicle.
Also, Yehezkel claimed that after he and other policemen fired several warning shots into the air, a vehicle hit him, throwing him into the street. Dari, according to the police report, was in that vehicle.
The officer further claimed that two passengers got out of the vehicle in order to grab Dari who attempted to get into the car.
“I was convinced that they would try to run me over, I was also sure that I and other policemen were in direct danger”, the policeman said.
“I warned him that I will shoot if he didn’t stop”, Yehezkel added, “He didn’t stop”.
But eyewitnesses reported that the statements of the police are false and that Dari was shot in the back.
Moreover, an investigator who questioned the policemen after the incident stated that there was no justification for firing at Dari since he posed no danger to the policemen.
The forensic report also revealed that Dari was shot in his back, apparently as he was stepping out of the car. This contradicts the police report which stated that Dari was in the car when he was shot and that he tried to ram his car into the policemen.
The judge wrote in his ruling that the policeman made a terrible mistake and killed Dari for nothing, but added that “his criminal responsibility is negligible”, Ynetnews reported.
He further wrote that the situation was complicated and included a mix of justification, necessity and self-defense. “There is a reasonable doubt, therefore I acquitted him”.