Salt Lake City shooting: Investigation into officers launched after 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed shot four times

The boy's friend said police 'already had their guns out' as they ran up to the scene

Jess Staufenberg
Monday 29 February 2016 12:02
Police stopped a friend of Abdi Mohamed as he was walking away from the scene in Salt Lake City, Utah, US.
Police stopped a friend of Abdi Mohamed as he was walking away from the scene in Salt Lake City, Utah, US.

The identity of a 17-year-old teenager shot by police in the US has been confirmed - in an incident which saw protesters take to the streets and an investigation into police conduct launched.

Abdi Mohamed, of Salt Lake City in Utah, was arguing with a man while holding a broomstick when he was allegedly fired on by police after being given "one chance" to drop his "weapon".

The mayor of the city has said such "use of force" by the police must be taken "extremely seriously" after 100 officers followed up on the shooting to get rid of an upset and angry crowd.

Abdi, who has a girlfriend and a son, is now in a critical condition in hospital after two officers hit him in the chest and stomach on Saturday evening.

Jackie Biskupski, the city's mayor, said in a statement she had had a "serious conversation" with police chief Mike Brown on whether attempts at de-escalating the situation had been made by officers before they decided to shoot Mr Mohamed.

She said the shooting was the "third significant use of force" incident by the Salt Lake City Police Department in the last month.

"While the shooting is still under investigation, there is no doubt what happened is a tragedy for all involved, and for our entire city," she said.

"The use of force by law enforcement against the public can tear at the delicate balance of trust between both sides and must be taken extremely seriously."

Four people were arrested for civil disorder after protesting at the shooing of a young black man, and father-of-one, in Salt Lake City, Utah, US

Testaments from witnesses and police on how events unfolded appear to contradict one another.

Selam Mohammed, Abdi's friend, told Fox 13 News that crowds were outraged because the teenager had not been given a chance to surrender after being found arguing with a man at about 8pm.

"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," he said.

"They already had him - like, as soon as [the policeman] was running he was already grabbing for his gun, not even trying to Tase him or anything."

Abdi moved to Utah 10 years ago and was born in Kenya, according to the New York Daily News.

Salt Lake City Police Department, meanwhile, said he did not drop the broomstick and moved towards the man he was in an argument with.

"Officers confronted two male suspects and ordered them to drop their weapons," it said in a statement.

"One of the males complied and dropped the weapon, the other continue to advance on the victim and was shot by officers."

Following the shooting, a crowd grew on the street expressing anger at the officers for what they saw as a dispropotionate use of force on a young black boy.

Four more people were arrested for "crimes relating to civil disorder" after objects were reportedly thrown by the crowd at police in riot gear.

An investigation into the conduct of the two policemen who shot Mr Mohamed are now under way, with footage from cameras on the officers' chests being used.

They are both on leave as the investigation by the Unified Police Department is carried out. Their findings will be turned over to the District Attorney's office.

Police shot more than 1,000 people in the US in 2015. Black people were twice as likely to be shot by police than white people in any given incident, according to The Guardian.

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