Hundreds mourn man killed by police in north Israel

Hundreds of mourners turned out in north Israel Tuesday to remember and protest the death of a 19-year-old man who was shot by an off-duty police officer.

Family members mourn Solomon Tekah during a funeral procession Tuesday.

The shooting in a suburb of Haifa Sunday led to protests throughout Israel that blocked several roads and intersections, and injuries for several. Ethiopian Solomon Tekah died when the officer pulled a gun to break up a street fight. The unidentified officer said he shot in self defense because he felt his family was threatened. He was later arrested on suspicion of unlawful killing and released to house arrest.

Haifa is located about 80 miles north of Jerusalem and 20 miles southwest of the Israel-Lebanon border.

The officer got involved after he saw Tekah and two others beating a 13-year-old boy, Haaretz reported, and when he intervened they pelted him with rocks. Tekah was ultimately shot in the chest. The officer said he fired at the ground, and authorities are investigating that claim. A witness said the officer didn’t appear to be in danger when he fired.

The shooting has drawn outrage among the Ethiopian community in Israel.

“Give me my boy back,” father Worka Tekah said during the eulogy Tuesday.

“This is such a great pain that cannot be contained,” Rabbi Moshe Baruch said at the funeral. “We see the father, the whole family; it is such a great pain, there is no way to console you.”

“We did not come to Israel so that our children could be killed,” added family friend Asaf Kovna. “We did not make this journey and pay such a dear price to get to this beloved country so that our children would die at an early age and be murdered in front of their brothers, in front of children.”

ByNicholas Sakelaris