Israeli police have shot dead an unarmed autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City after saying they suspected he was carrying a weapon.
The shooting drew broad condemnations and revived complaints alleging excessive force by Israeli security forces. On social media, some compared the shooting to police violence in the US
Relatives identified the man as Iyad Halak, 32. They said he was autistic and heading to the school for students with special needs where he studied each day when he was shot on Saturday.
“They killed him in cold blood,” Halak’s mother, Rana, told Israel’s Channel 12 TV.
In a statement, Israeli police said they spotted a suspect “with a suspicious object that looked like a pistol”. When he failed to obey orders to stop, officers opened fire, the statement said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld later said no weapon was found.
Channel 12 said members of Israel’s paramilitary border police force fired at Halak’s legs and chased him into a dead-end alley.
It said a senior officer ordered a halt in fire as they entered the alley, but that a second officer did not listen and fired six or seven bullets from an M-16 rifle, killing Halak.
The report said both officers were taken into custody and interrogated for several hours.
AP video from the scene showed three bullet holes in a white wall at the end of the alleyway.
Halak’s father, Kheiri, said police raided the family’s home after the shooting. “They found nothing,” he said, claiming that police had cursed his daughter when she became upset at them.
Lone Palestinian attackers with no clear links to armed groups have carried out a series of stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in recent years.
Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups have long accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force in some cases, either by killing individuals who could have been arrested or using lethal force when their lives were not in danger.