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Police reinstates cop who killed Ethiopian-Israeli teen in 2019; family fumes

Worka and Wbjig Tekah hold a picture of their son Solomon Tekah, 19, who was killed by an off duty police officer, at their home in the Israeli city of Haifa, on July 3, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Worka and Wbjig Tekah hold a picture of their son Solomon Tekah, 19, who was killed by an off duty police officer, at their home in the Israeli city of Haifa, on July 3, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

The Israel Police has informed an officer charged with causing the shooting death of a teenager of Ethiopian descent in 2019 that he will return to his former position on Sunday.

The decision is likely to cause outrage in Israel’s Ethiopian community, which at the time held furious mass protests for several weeks over the death of 19-year-old Solomon Tekah, which many saw as reflecting racism and discrimination within the police ranks.

The officer, whose name is barred from publication by a court order, was happy and excited to receive the news, his lawyer Yair Nadashi tells the Walla news website, welcoming the “correct decision.” He has been accused of recklessly causing Tekah’s death by firing a bullet at the ground — from where it bounced and hit the teen — rather than firing warning shots in the air.

Ethiopian-Israelis and supporters protest in Tel Aviv on July 8, 2019 against police violence and discrimination, following the death of 19-year-old Solomon Tekah on July 1 in Haifa by an off-duty police officer. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Zion Amir, the lawyer for the Tekah family, says the family has “voiced shock and astonishment over this outrageous decision to reinstate an officer standing a criminal trial that hasn’t ended, and which we learned about from the media.”

He says district commander Yoram Sofer “ought to have taken these facts into consideration and let the court have its say.”

Amir adds the decision was insensitive.

Yami, Tekah’s sister, says: “I’m shocked. I’m shaking. I don’t believe it. I feel like they stabbed me in the heart. I expect the police commissioner to cancel this illogical decision today.”

The Justice Ministry says the decision was made “after deeply examining the evidence and weighing the entire circumstances and arguments heard during the disciplinary hearing.”

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