Abdi Mohamed Shooting Leads To Protests In Salt Lake City
Feb. 29, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — A teenager, 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed, remains in a coma today after being shot three times by police in Salt Lake City on Saturday night. The shooting sparked unrest amongst witnesses, who felt that the police had not given the victim, reportedly holding part of a broomstick at his side, an opportunity to surrender before opening fire.
Two unidentified police officers were responding to an unrelated incident in the Rio Grande District of Salt Lake City, when they received reports of a fight near a couple of homeless shelters that had broken out between a teenager and an older man. When they arrived at the scene of the altercation, the police confronted the victim, who was holding part of a broomstick.
According to Detective Ken Hansen with the Salt Lake City Unified Police Department,
Officers tried to break up the fight, but the male with the broomstick tried to attack an officer. One or both of the police officers then shot the male, hitting him in the upper and lower torso.
According to Selam Mohammed, a friend of the victim who saw the shooting, the police shot Abdi Mohamad before he had the opportunity to comply with their order to drop the broomstick.
“The police said, ‘Drop it’ once, then they shot at him four times. We were trying to break it up before the police even came, but the police ran in on foot and pulled their guns out already. They already had them, like, as soon as he was running he was already grabbing for his gun, not even trying to Tase him or anything… He said ‘Drop it’ [then] ‘Boom, boom!’ four times.”
Following the shooting, a crowd of angry people hurled rocks and shouted profanities at police officers. Officials reported that there were nearly 100 officers called to the scene to restore order, many decked out in full riot gear. Some protesters claim they were tasered and shot with pepper spray.
Police closed a nearby light rail stop for three hours in response to the protests and detained numerous people. There “were also reports of officers being injured because they were hit by objects,” though details remain unknown.
Police Chief Mike Brown has promised to foster better communication between law enforcement and the public, in his pledge to “reinstill that trust back into the communities we serve,” following the fatal shooting of Dillon Taylor by Police Officer Bron Cruz. But the lack of information made available here, combined with the potentially needless shooting Abdi Mohamed and handling of community reaction, suggests that the problems in Salt Lake City are only getting worse.