A police officer has been suspended after he was filmed using a taser gun on a man who had asked not to be taken to the station by car on Shabbat.
The incident last Friday night in the northern city of Midgal Ha’emek was filmed by onlookers, and the footage drew public outrage after it was shared on social media late Tuesday.
In the clip, local resident Eliran Zrihan can be seen pleading with police officers to be taken to the police station by foot rather than by car, since he is an observant Jew who doesn’t travel by car — as a driver or passenger — on Shabbat.
The officer then asks him repeatedly: “Are you resisting an arrest?” He then asks the other policemen to stand back and shoots the man with a taser gun in the back, causing him to collapse. Officers then gathered around Zrihan and took him in the police vehicle to the station, where he remained until 7 a.m. on Saturday.
At no point during the clip does Zrihan appear to use force or pose a threat to the officers. Israel Police regulations only permit the use of tasers when officers feel they are in danger.
In a viral Facebook post accompanying the footage, Zrihan’s cousin Orly Biton wrote that the officers had been alerted by a noise complaint concerning teenagers, and that Zrihan had happened to walk through the same area and was misidentified as the culprit.
“The officers jumped him and handcuffed him without checking for whom the police were alerted,” she wrote. She added that Zrihan had begged to be taken by foot to the police station, which she said was located a five-minute walk from the scene.
Biton accused the officers of treating Zrihan as if he was a “terrorist on his way to carry out an attack” or a known criminal.
“If until now we were afraid of our kids being hurt by teenagers wandering around at night, today we are afraid of the Israel Police,” she added, calling the officers “criminals in uniform.”
Police said that an initial probe into the incident indicated that the officer had breached police rules and “not acted as expected of a policeman in such a situation.”
“Therefore, the material has been handed to the Police Internal Investigations Department for an investigation, and simultaneously it has been decided for now to suspend him with immediate effect,” police added in a statement. “As the probe ends further steps will be decided.”
Police added that it was an extraordinary case that “does not at all characterize the Israel Police officers who professionally enforce the law every day and serve millions of citizens with professionalism, dedication and mutual respect to every human.”