Police have announced they will not be filing charges against a police officer who shot and killed a knife-wielding attacker in the Arab village of Kafr Kana in the Galilee last year.
The head of the Police Investigations Department (PID), Uri Carmel, notified the family of Hir Al-Hamadan on Tuesday that the inquiry into his shooting has been formally closed. Notification of the decision was communicated to the family through its attorney, who for his part plans to launch civil charges against the police officer in question.
Al-Hamadan was killed last November, after attacking officers who arrived at the village to make an arrest. Security camera footage shows him brandishing a knife, stabbing the police car several times, and attempting to stab officers as they opened the car door.
He was shot moments after, triggering days of violent riots by Israeli Arabs, who claimed he was backing off at the time he was shot and no longer posed a threat. The arresting officers countered that they felt a real and immediate threat to their lives, and acted accordingly.
The decision to drop the case was made after consultation with the State Prosecutor.
Investigators examined evidence including the widely-publicized CCTV footage of the incident, hard evidence from the scene, reenactments of the chain of events, and after interviewing several eyewitnesses, including residents of Kafr Kana and Al-Hamadan's family members.
The investigation revealed several previously unknown aspects of the story, much of which is not immediately clear from the raw CCTV footage.
According to the findings of the investigation, a team of elite Yassam riot police arrived at Kafr Kana to arrest a man suspected of having thrown a hand grenade.
During the arrest, a young man (Hir Al-Hamadan) approached police and assailed them outside the house of the suspect. The attacker refused police orders to leave the scene, and even proceeded to approach officers aggressively, with the intent to physically attack them.
One police officer pushed the attacker away, but he continued his assault regardless, prompting another officer to spray him in the face with pepper spray.
After successfully carrying out the arrest, police left the scene and headed to the house of a second suspect, but became lost and accidentally arrived back at the house of the man they had already arrested. There, they were immediately attacked again by Al-Hamadan, who this time was brandishing a large, 29-centimeter knife while shouting "Allahu Akbar".
Al-Hamadan stabbed the patrol car's window several times and attempted to prize open the doors. In response, one of the officers opened the car door and fired a warning shot into the air in order to warn him off. However rather than backing off Alhamadan escalated his attack, stabbing violently at the window of the door from which the officer had fired the warning shots.
At that point an officer emerged from the car and approached Al-Hamadan. The officer drew his gun, and the attacker backed off, but refused repeated calls by police to calm down and drop the large knife he was still wielding.
Simultaneously, the driver of the patrol car leaned out of his window and aimed his gun towards Al-Hamadan, and fired the single, fatal shot.
During the investigation, the driver explained his actions by claiming he feared his colleague outside of the car was totally exposed and could easily be attacked by the knife-wielding Al-Hamadan. The attacker, the driver noted, had been acting maniacally and irrationally throughout he episode, and had been totally unfazed even by warning shots fired in extremely close proximity to him.
Given that he was standing relatively close to the officer outside the car – and given his prior, crazed behavior, and the fact that he was refusing to drop his knife – the driver said he felt he could easily lunge forward and attack his exposed colleague at any moment, prompting his on-the-spot decision to open fire and neutralize him.
Al-Hamadan collapsed from the single bullet wound and died shortly afterwards.
The investigation also found that police and Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedics evacuated Al Hamadan from the scene as quickly as possible, without any delays, and did not display any negligence which could have contributed to his death.