Israeli police officer seen in video beating a Tampa teen has been reprimanded

TAMPA, Fla. - The Israel Justice Ministry has announced that one of the police officers seen in a video brutally beating a person reported to be Tampa teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir is potentially facing criminal charges.

Khdeir, 15, was in east Jerusalem on summer vacation with his family when the incident took place.

The attack, which was caught on camera, shows what appears to be two Israeli police officers viciously beating and stomping on someone whom family members identified as Tariq.

"It's been very, very hard," Tariq's father, Salahedeen Khdeir, said. "Imagine yourself see somebody hit your son like this. What do you want to do? I don't care if this is police or soldiers or anything."

Tariq spoke to ABC Action News over the phone from a village in Jerusalem a few miles away from where his son Tariq is being held away from his parents under house arrest.

Israeli police have said Tariq was part of a group of masked youths involved in a "severe riot" on July 3. A number of teens were arrested for allegedly throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police. A spokesman for the police said Tariq was carrying a slingshot. 

His family has repeatedly denied these allegations, saying he was just an innocent bystander.

"We want to bring Tariq home so he can get medical attention. We want justice. We want those who beat a minor to face time for that," his cousin, Hakim Abukhdeir, said.

In a press release, the Israel Justice Ministry said the Police Investigations Department found evidence "supporting the guilt of the police officer suspected of severe violent crimes, committed after the arrest of the minor, and while the minor was handcuffed." They said they are now considering bringing criminal charges against the officer and have instructed he be summoned to a hearing at the department. For the time being, the police officer has been banned from his police duties for 15 days. 

In response to the news, the family's attorney Hassan Shibly, the executive director of CAIR Florida, said it was "too little, too late." They want every officer involved to be held accountable. 

There is a meeting scheduled with the Department of State on Monday.

Tariq's father said the first thing he wants to do when they return is take his family to see a therapist to help them sort through everything they've been through. 

"I'm very nervous. My daughter is 10 years old. She says 'Dad I want to go back home. I'm scared.'  She is scared to walk next to the police right now. She is scared to walk next to any police. She says 'Oh my gosh he wants to hit me. He wants to shoot me," Khdeir said.

The Khdeirs are planning to return to Tampa with Tariq in mid July. They already have their plane tickets purchased. 

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