SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 14, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Abdi Mohamed, the teen boy shot by Salt Lake City Police officers after they found him in an altercation with another person in the Rio Grande area of downtown Salt Lake City, is now awake from a medically induced coma.
Mohamed’s cousin, Muslima Weledi, said over the weekend that the boy is now able to communicate, mostly through writing, and has shared memories of the night he took four SLCPD bullets.
Weledi has said Mohamed didn’t initially know why he was in the hospital, but then remembered being shot and falling to the ground.
Witnesses on the scene on the night of Feb. 27 incident have said Mohamed and another male were in a confrontation with a third male, and officers told Mohamed and his friend to drop what they were holding, which witnesses have said were parts of a broken broomstick.
According to a Salt Lake City Police Department statement, the other male dropped what he was holding, but Mohamed did not immediately drop his weapon, which police described as a metal object.
Witnesses have said Mohamed was shot as he began to turn toward police, before he had a chance to respond. Onlookers’ anger with the police sparked a brief riot during which which rocks and bottles were thrown at officers. More than 100 additional officers responded to the scene to lock it down.
Body camera footage exists from the incident, but Salt Lake County district attorney Sim Gill has said it will not be released before an investigation into the case has been completed.
Mohamed’s family and community supporters have called for the release of the footage, saying it will provide the truth of what really happened in the case. Utah Against Police Brutality held a rally on Feb. 29, at which speakers also called for the release of the body camera video.
Other organizations calling for a quick and transparent investigation into the case include the Utah American Civil Liberties Union.
“The ACLU of Utah joins Salt Lake City community members – particularly members of the community living in and around the Rio Grande neighborhood of downtown Salt Lake City – in calling for a full investigation of the recent shooting of 17-year-old Abdi Muhamed,” the statement said, in part.
In addition, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, on Feb. 29 called on police in Salt Lake City to release the body camera video. The statement was authored by Nihad Awad, CAIR’s national executive director.
“Because of past unfortunate incidents of controversial police shootings nationwide, the release of the body camera video could help allay community concerns about transparency and accountability,” Awad said.
Weledi has said plans are in the works for a rally this Friday, at which Mohamed’s family and supporters will again ask for the release of body camera footage.