An unnamed off-duty police officer who killed an Ethiopian teenager in Kiryat Haim, Haifa last June has been charged with negligent homicide on Tuesday.
Protesters branded the ruling by Justice Minister Amir Ohana a “disgrace”.
“The decision was made after a thorough examination of the incident, including the fact that the officer opened fire not in accordance with police protocols he was well aware of, and did not take any other alternatives measures which were available to him,” said a Justice Ministry statement.
“We took into account the fact that the officer had stones hurled at him by the deceased, as well as other teenagers, and was hurt in the incident before he decided to reach for a gun. But, after examining all the circumstances, we believe there is room for indictment.”
According to the indictment, the officer arrived at a Kiryat Haim park with his wife and children on a day off when the tragedy occurred.
“The two teens along with the deceased began cursing the officer and claimed the gun he had on him was fake,” said the indictment. “Fearing escalation, the officer decided to leave the area but the two teens along with the deceased began following him and threatening him.”
The officer was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and has been under house arrest since the tragedy.
A Police Internal investigation supported defense claims that the officer acted in self-defense as he fired in direction of the floor. The bullet ricocheted, killing 19-year-old Tekah.
Forensic tests included pathological analysis, ballistics tests, weapons testing and forensic examination of the scene of the shooting.
“Tests support the claim that the bullet first hit the ground, ricocheted off the ground and hit the deceased, resulting in his unfortunate death,” noted a spokesman.
The death of Tekah resulted in mass protests across the country by Ethiopian-Israelis.
Women carried signs stating “Mom, don’t let me be the next victim” and “State of Israel: being black is not a crime.”
Police called on demonstrators to maintain law and order.
Authorities announced they would allow “legitimate” protests but would take firm action against riots or violent disturbances directed against policemen or civilians.
Demonstrations resulted in 111 officers and dozens of protesters being injured.
There were 136 people arrested during protests.