Minor compensated for detention over “looking like a hilltop youth”

Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 16:47 In a compromise agreement, the police paid 2,800 NIS in compensation to a minor who sued the Jerusalem Police over false detention. Due solely to his outward appearance, including long payot and a large kippah, the police demanded that the minor identify himself, then falsely detained him and illegally handcuffed him. In the course of the court deliberations the policeman admitted that he had demanded that the minor identify himself because “he looked like a hilltop youth”. The outward appearance of the minor is described at the opening of the statement of claim: “He wears a large crocheted kippah and has long, full payot that hang from the sides of his face to his chest.” On the date of the incident, a year ago, the minor was riding the light rail in Jerusalem. When he alighted from the train two policemen demanded that he present his identification card. The minor asked them why, and when they repeated their demand he asked, “Why? Is it because I have payot and a large kippah?” After an exchange of words, during which the minor gave his name and his address, one of the policemen informed the plaintiff that he was being detained. When the plaintiff asked for the reason for the detention, “The policeman jumped on the plaintiff in an irritated manner, handcuffed him with his arms behind the back, in the process tearing his shirt, and told him that the grounds for his detention were his refusal to identify himself.” The minor stood for a quarter of an hour, with his hands handcuffed behind his back and his shirt torn, at a bustling light rail station on Jaffa Street until a police car arrived. Additionally, the policeman tightened the handcuffs and did not lock them according to the requirements of the law. When the plaintiff asked for the handcuffs to be slightly loosened, the policeman refused. When the minor arrived at the Russian Compound his legs were placed in leg-cuffs and he was forced to wait for two hours, handcuffed and leg-cuffed. His only relief was that his hands were handcuffed in front of his body instead of behind his back. In accordance with the Youth Law the minor’s parents were summoned to the police station. His mother was present during his interrogation. The minor was interrogated with his hands handcuffed and his legs leg-cuffed, which is illegal. He denied that he had insulted a policeman. When the minor mentioned to the policeman that it was forbidden to interrogate him while he was handcuffed, the policeman retorted, “Who knows the law, you or me?” In light of the policemen’s conduct during the incident, the minor’s claim in the suit was that, “Due to his appearance, he and other youths like him, encounter innumerable police checks, including under circumstances which do not raise any suspicions against them. These security checks are not legal.” The statement of claim also mentioned that the incident was a matter of course for youths such as the minor and the minor’s impatience during the conversation with the policemen stems from that, although he did not violate the law and he did give them all of the details that he knew. The suit was filed over the prohibition of hand and leg-cuffing during interrogation, the prohibition of hand and leg-cuffing at a police station, extreme hand and leg-cuffing contrary to need and contrary to the permitted level of hand and leg-cuffing, failure to lock the handcuffs as required by law, handcuffing a minor in public, false detention and other legal injustices in violation of the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty. In the statement of defense filed by the police, testimony from the detaining policeman was brought. The policeman was asked, “What was the reason for your demand of the detainee to identify himself when he alighted from the train?” and he replied, “The matter pertains to a young man who looks like a hilltop youth, in the center of the city, at rush hour.” In the compromise agreement the police paid 2,800 NIS in compensation to the minor. Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado, who represented the minor: “The policemen harmed a youth solely because he is a hilltop youth. They based their actions on a stigma and on profiling. The suit brought about a small correction, but the upper echelons of the police must draw the correct conclusions and impart them to the ranks on the ground.”

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