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Manslaughter Charge Urged for Israeli Officer in Killing of Autistic Palestinian

The accused officer’s lawyer, Efrat Nahmani Bar, has stressed her client’s youth — he is 19 — and inexperience. She said she was confident that prosecutors would drop the case entirely after a hearing.

“That is the just thing to do,” she said.

According to prosecutors, Mr. al-Hallaq, who lived just downhill from the Old City in East Jerusalem, aroused the suspicions of police at about 6 a.m. on a Saturday when, wearing black disposable gloves and a surgical mask because of the pandemic, he crossed under the 500-year-old Lions Gate on his way to school.

Without being more specific, prosecutors said that “certain characteristics” of Mr. al-Hallaq’s behavior led two officers, watching him from a distance, to identify him as a potential “terrorist.”

When he did not heed their orders to stop, they gave chase, and other officers joined in. One of them, a 21-year-old commander who was to leave the force within days, shot twice at Mr. al-Hallaq’s feet while pursuing him but missed.

Mr. al-Hallaq then turned into a fenced-in area used by sanitation workers where, according to witnesses, he cowered in a corner. Among those looking on was one of the teachers from his school.

The teacher has said that she yelled to the officers that Mr. al-Hallaq was disabled and posed no threat.

When the 19-year-old officer, who had completed his basic training only a few weeks earlier, arrived and spotted Mr. al-Hallaq in the corner, he shot him once in the abdomen, prosecutors said, even as his commander shouted at him to hold his fire.

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