A man in the Israeli coastal city of Bat Yam was shot dead Friday after charging at an officer with a knife, police said. His family claimed the policeman did not open fire according to regulations.
The man was identified on Saturday as 24-year-old Yehuda Biadga, a Bat Yam resident of Ethiopian descent.
Police said they received reports of a young man with a knife in the stairwell of his apartment building who was feared to pose a threat to people in the vicinity. When officers arrived at the building, they were told the suspect had fled on foot to a nearby street.
During searches for the suspect, police said one of the officers saw Biadga approaching with a knife and ordered him to stop, but he ignored his calls. Feeling a threat to his life, the officer then fired at Biadga, police said.
Biadga was brought by paramedics to a hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
“As with all similar incidents, the circumstances of what happened are being probed by the Internal Investigations Department,” police said.
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Relatives accused police of using excessive force and said Biadga had mental health issues.
“When a terrorist comes to carry out an attack they say ‘don’t shoot’ and if you do shoot, then at the legs. But when this is a citizen they shoot at his upper body — that isn’t normal,” Biadga’s brother, David, said.
“My brother was a totally normal person. A God-fearing young man,” David said, adding his brother was a good student and had served in the military.
But Yehuda Biadga’s brother-in-law Hagos Ubo said he had mental health problems and had recently stopped taking his medication. He added that he had been the one to call police following an altercation between Biadga and his parents but harshly criticized the officer for opening fire.
“They shot a person in the head in the crosswalk. Why not shoot in the air? They immediately shoot at the head in order to kill,” Ubo told Hebrew media.
Ubo said he volunteers with police but could no longer do so in the wake of the incident.
“Every weekend I volunteer and tomorrow I’m throwing out my uniform. I’m ashamed. I can’t see it anymore. How long will they keep treating our ethnicity like this,” he said.
גרסת השוטר שירה אתמול (ו') למוות בצעיר בבת- ים: "חשתי סכנת חיים מוחשית ומיידית, הירי בוצע כמוצא אחרון". משפחתו של ההרוג, יהודה ביאדגה בן ה-24, זועמת על המשטרה: "היד היתה קלה על ההדק". @ynetalerts https://t.co/X0wXpzpbeF pic.twitter.com/pvYlbuT4rm
— איתי בלומנטל (@ItayBlumental) January 19, 2019
Police officials rejected accusations that the officer fired at Biadga because he is Ethiopian and said the policeman’s life was “at risk.”
The officer’s lawyer, Sagi Blumenfeld, said he acted lawfully and only opened fire as a last resort.
“We are confident this will be shown to be the case. We share in the family’s sorrow,” he said.