SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police officers did not act within policy when they shot and critically wounded a 17-year-old Somali refugee, the department’s Civilian Review Board said in a report released Friday.
Police were trying to protect a man that Abdi Mohamed had hit with a metal mop handle, but the Feb. 27 incident didn’t appear critical when police used deadly force, the board said.
Neither Mohamed nor the victim “were showing any sense of urgency in this last confrontation,” according to the report that cited video footage of the incident.
Those videos have not been made public.
The board’s reports are among many things Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown takes into consideration when he makes final decisions on whether incidents like the shooting are warranted under policy and if anyone should be disciplined, according to a department statement.
The panel’s conclusion runs counter to the determination made by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. He found in August the officers were legally justified because police believed he was about to seriously injure or kill a man with a metal mop handle.
The officers yelled multiple times for Mohamed to drop the weapon as he and another man attacked the victim, but he refused, Gill said.
Mohamed’s family has disputed that account, saying he misunderstood police commands. His lawyer Ryan Hancey didn’t have immediate comment on the board’s findings Friday.
Mohamed was hospitalized in a medically induced coma but survived. Now 18, he’s used a wheelchair after being released.
The fight that sparked the shooting started after a proposed drug deal, according to police. Gill has refused to release body camera footage, citing robbery and drug charges filed against Mohamed.
The civilian review board acknowledged that officers had reason to believe the light, hollow rod was actually a heavier, more dangerous pipe or sword. The victim received welts and bruises.
The Salt Lake City shooting occurred after police stumbled upon a fight between the teenager and a man over $1.10 from a failed drug buy near the city’s crowded homeless shelter, authorities have said.