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Israeli officer indicted in beating of U.S. teen during Arab protests

The wrists of Tariq Khdeir, a 15-year-old U.S. citizen, show signs of being tightly handcuffed as he sits at his family’s home in Jerusalem on July 14, 2014. Khdeir was beaten by Israeli police, an incident caught on video, after the funeral of his cousin. (Quique Kierszenbaum/MCT)
The wrists of Tariq Khdeir, a 15-year-old U.S. citizen, show signs of being tightly handcuffed as he sits at his family’s home in Jerusalem on July 14, 2014. Khdeir was beaten by Israeli police, an incident caught on video, after the funeral of his cousin. (Quique Kierszenbaum/MCT) MCT

Israeli authorities have indicted a police officer whose severe beating of a Palestinian American teenager was caught on video and drew expressions of concern from the State Department and President Barack Obama.

Charges were brought Wednesday against the border policeman, whose identity was concealed by a gag order.

The incident occurred July 3 during violent protests in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem after Jewish assailants kidnapped and burned to death Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian.

The revenge killing followed the abduction and fatal shooting in June of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

Tariq Khdeir, 15, a cousin of the slain Palestinian youth’s who was visiting with his family from Tampa, Fla., was at the scene of the street clashes and was chased down by the officer.

The teenager said later that he’d been watching the clashes between police and local youths, who’d set up burning barricades and had hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces.

According to the indictment, Khdeir was masked with an Arab head scarf and was holding a slingshot. After pinning him to the ground, the officer was joined by a colleague, who cuffed the teenager’s hands behind his back.

Once Khdeir was subdued, “the accused beat him with fists and kicks to the head, face, shoulders and upper body when the plaintiff did not resist arrest,” the indictment says, adding that the teenager was beaten senseless.

As the two officers dragged Khdeir away, the officer kicked him again in the stomach and face, according to the indictment.

The video of the beating and images of Khdeir’s swollen face went viral on the Internet. The State Department said it was “deeply troubled” and demanded “a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.”

Khdeir was released to nine days of house arrest but wasn’t charged, and he returned to Tampa in July with his family. The officer was suspended for 15 days during an investigation by the Justice Ministry, and was charged in the indictment with “assault that caused bodily harm,” an offense punishable by up to three years in prison.

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