Salt Lake City Mayor gives statement on police use of force after teen shot by officer

Posted at 3:02 PM, Feb 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-28 18:04:24-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The day after an officer-involved shooting in downtown Salt Lake City sparked an angry response from crowds, which in turn prompted a massive police response, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski issued a statement on the shooting and the broader issue of police use of force.

“Like many in our community, I am deeply saddened and concerned by the events that took place in Downtown Salt Lake City last night,” Biskupski’s statement begins. “While the shooting is still under investigation, there is no doubt what happened is a tragedy for all involved and for our entire city.”

Teen shot by police in Salt Lake City was identified by family as 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed.

Teen shot by police in Salt Lake City was identified by family as 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed.

Salt Lake City Police Department personnel confirmed two of their officers were involved and that at least one officer fired shots while intervening in an altercation between a teenage male and an older man. The teen’s family has identified him as 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed, and they say he is in a coma Saturday.

Sunday, police said the teen did not drop a metal object he was wielding and continued moving toward the victim in an alleged assault after being told to stop by officers, who then fired on the teen.

“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,” Biskupski continues. “These incidents create a number of unanswered questions in the short term, and justice requires we work together in good faith to find answers.”

The mayor says she has complete confidence in the Unified Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office, which are the two agencies investigating. She said she has directed Salt Lake City PD to release as much information as they can without compromising their investigation, and she has asked Chief Brown to reach out to Mohamed’s family and to meet with members of the police reform community as quickly as possible.

Biskupski said she knows this is the third “significant use of force incident” for Salt Lake City police in the last month, and she said she had a “serious conversation with Police Chief Brown and members of his team to review details about each of these incidents, including a discussion on training and whether de-escalation efforts could have been implemented.”

She says more conversations with even more stakeholders will happen in the weeks to come.

The previous two incidents Biskupski is referring to are the shooting of 28-year-old Palm Lautaimiafter officers confronting the man, who had recently been released from jail despite parole violations involving drugs and a gun, said the man became violent.

The other incident involved 23-year-old Leon Dane Hall, who allegedly severed an officers ear while wielding a lawn ornament. The man’s mother has accused police of using excessive force during the altercation and arrest.

The statement from the mayor concludes with:

“It is critical in times like these we do not circle the wagons against each other in our efforts to improve our criminal justice system–and we can always improve. I encourage the public to stay involved and engage in civil dialogue.”