WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it was "disappointed" that an Israeli riot policeman was sentenced to community service, and not prison, for beating an American teenager of Palestinian descent last year, saying there was clear evidence excessive force was used.
The teenager, Tariq Khdeir, was visiting from Tampa, Florida, as protests erupted in Jerusalem over the abduction and killing last year of his 16-year-old cousin, allegedly by three Israeli Jews.
Amateur video showed two Israeli riot policemen punching and kicking Khdeir, who was 15 at the time. He was left with a heavy black eye and swollen lip.
"Given the clear evidence captured on videotape of the excessive use of force, it is difficult to see how this sentence would promote full accountability for the actions of the police officer in this case," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
"We understand there is a possibility for the Israeli state prosecutor to appeal the decision, and we're going to continue to follow that closely, as you might expect," he added.
A court on Wednesday sentenced the policeman, whose name was not released, to 45 days of community service and a suspended term of four months in prison, a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry's police internal affairs department said.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Tom Brown)