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Monday, July 8, 2019

Off Duty Police Officer Killed an Unarmed Black Teen — But This Time, It Wasn’t in the U.S.

Solomon Teka, Black teen killed by off-duty cop in Israel

Solomon Teka

Israel — Outrage against police brutality has once again been sparked, but this time in Israel after an off-duty police officer shot and killed Solomon Teka, an 18-year old unarmed Black man. Angry protesters claim it was a case of racial injustice which usually happens in the United States, but this time it is in Israel.

Last Sunday, Teka was fatally shot at a playground in Haifa’s Kiryat Haim suburb in Northern Israel. A police officer, who remains unnamed, was at the same playground with his family when he allegedly found two men fighting. He said he identified himself as an officer then the men threw rocks at him. Fearing for his life, he said he fired one bullet in response, hitting Teka in the chest.

However, several witnesses tell an entirely different story. They are claiming that the officer just suddenly took out his weapon and pointed it to the men who were only gathering at a playground. A witness said the police officer even crouched down into firing position before shooting Teka about 90 feet away.

An autopsy was conducted on Teka’s body, but it could not answer whether the trajectory of the bullet was aimed at his chest or it just ricocheted from the ground, as what the police officer claims.

An investigation is currently ongoing and the police officer was arrested. But he was eventually released and placed under house arrest instead.

Over the years, Ethiopians who migrated to Israel has reportedly long been suffering discrimination and racial injustices, especially from the police. The recent shooting of Teka, who migrated to Israel with his family when he was 12, provoked an uproar.

“It’s hard to be Black in Israel and walk around feeling secure,” Itay Ashatu, one of Teka’s relatives, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “Even a policeman of Ethiopian origin, once he takes off his uniform, is at risk of taking a bullet in the head. Parents aren’t afraid of road accidents or terrorists, they are afraid of policemen. There’s no faith in any system, there’s no justice.”

After the shooting, several protesters burned cars and tires, damaged ambulances, and blocked off major streets in the cities. Dozens were injured and over a hundred protesters were taken into custody, according to police.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said the shooting death of Teka was a “serious and painful incident” that “should not have happened.” President Reuven Rivlin called for protesters to wait for the results of the investigation.

“This is not a civil war. It is a shared struggle of brothers and sisters for their shared home and their shared future. I ask all of us to act responsibly and with moderation. My home is your home. Let us continue to stand together like a wall against violence, any form of violence, and to fight together for our shared home.”