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Israel suspends police officer over beating of U.S. teen in Jerusalem

By Jethro Mullen and Tal Heinrich, CNN
updated 7:54 AM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: An Israeli police officer is suspected of committing "serious violent offenses"
  • Authorities carried out an investigation into the beating of a U.S. teen caught on video
  • High school student Tariq Abu Khdeir says he was attacked amid protests in Jerusalem
  • Israeli authorities say he was identified by police as participating in the unrest

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli authorities said Thursday that they have suspended a police officer who is accused of beating the U.S. teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem last week.

Amateur video emerged last week showing Israeli police officers holding down and punching 15-year-old Khdeir, a high school sophomore from Florida.

The shocking footage prompted outrage from his family and calls by the U.S. government for a full and transparent investigation.

Khdeir says he was arrested and accosted while watching violent protests in the Shuafat neighborhood last week over the kidnapping and killing of his cousin, the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khedair.

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The young man's killing came after three abducted Israeli teenagers were found dead in a field in the West Bank, sparking an upsurge in tensions in the region.

Israeli authorities say Khdeir was among a group of youths who attacked police during the riots. He is currently under house arrest at a relative's home after being released on bail by a court.

The Israeli Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP) said Thursday that after an investigation into the incident, it had found evidence to suspect one of the officers of committing "serious violent offenses" while Khdeir was handcuffed.

The department's director is considering criminal charges against the officer, who is in a special undercover unit, and he has been summoned for a hearing, the agency said in a statement. The officer's suspension is for 15 days.

But the DIP also said Khdeir was identified by police as wearing a mask, carrying a slingshot and taking an active part in the unrest in Shuafat.

Khdeir and his family have denied he did anything wrong.

"I was attacked by police. I woke up in the hospital," he said as he walked out of court in Jerusalem on Sunday, sporting two black eyes and a swollen lip.

"I just saw somebody running at me, so I tried to run away," he told reporters.

Khdeir said he didn't know why he was attacked.

His mother has said the family intends to sue Israeli authorities over the matter.

CNN's Tal Heinrich reported from Jerusalem, and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong.

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