The attorney for a police officer who shot dead a Ethiopian-Israeli during a street altercation received threats Tuesday night warning him to repent since his time “is short.”
Several anonymous text messages sent to Yair Nadashi accused him of serving as an “attorney for a murderer. Your time is short. Repent. Judgment day is coming.”
Nadashi filed a complaint with police over the incident.
The off-duty police officer, whose name is barred from publication by a court order, shot to death 19-year-old Solomon Tekah in Haifa on June 30, setting off protests across the country against police brutality that have seen violence and destruction of property.
The officer claims he was trying to break up a street fight he came across but was set upon by three youths who hurled stones at him, endangering his life. He claims he then fired a warning shot at the ground, which investigators probing the incident believe ricocheted and hit Tekah.
Last week Nadashi said that the cop had also received death threats.
“Unfortunately, my client and his family are under tremendous pressure over concerns for their safety and security, and despite a gag order various entities published his name and photograph on the internet along with slander and threats,” Nadashi said in a statement at the time.
Channel 13 reported Wednesday that the officer has convinced investigators from the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID) that he really was in danger during the incident.
However, during a reenactment, the officer was challenged as to why he used his pistol in the first place and why he fired at the ground. The officer told investigators he aimed downwards to avoid injuring passersby, the report said.
Officials are said to be leaning toward charging the man with a disciplinary offense rather than manslaughter, the report added.
On Monday PIID confirmed that its probe had concluded that the officer fired at the ground and the bullet apparently ricocheted into Tekah.
The shooting incident immediately sparked renewed accusations of police brutality and racism toward the Ethiopian community. Last Monday, protesters across Israel blocked roads, burned tires and denounced what they said is systemic discrimination against the Ethiopian-Israeli community. The demonstrations escalated after Tekah’s funeral last week, when some protesters set vehicles on fire, overturned a police car and clashed with officers and others who tried to break through their makeshift roadblocks.
Ethiopian Jews, who trace their lineage to the ancient Israelite tribe of Dan, began arriving in large numbers in the 1980s, when Israel secretly airlifted them to the Holy Land to save them from war and famine in the Horn of Africa.
Agencies contributed to this report.