SLC Police Chief meets with family, friends of teen shot by officers

Posted at 8:40 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 22:40:50-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Two days after an officer-involved shooting put a 17-year-old into a comma, Salt Lake City Police spoke on camera for the first time.

Interim Police Chief Mike Brown spoke to reporters during a round-table discussion at the police headquarters.

"I looked [his mother] right in the eyes, and gave her a hug and said we're sorry," Brown said of his conversation with the 17-year-old's mother.

According to witnesses, Abdi Mohamed was fighting with another man on South Rio Grande Street in Salt Lake City in an area where the homeless populate. They said he was holding a broomstick when officers approached and told him to put it down.

Police say he didn't, so they fired their guns, hitting him at least once.

The day after the shooting, Brown said he spoke to Mohamed's mother, and apologized.  The apology wasn't so much an admission of fault on Salt Lake City Police's part, as much as a gesture of empathy.

Brown said he took Mohamed's mom to the hospital Sunday night to see her son, and she held his hand.

"The tragedy would be if we didn’t do anything," Brown said. "We went to talk to family, and with mother.”

Brown said after that meeting, he reached out to David Parker, the Chair for the Citizen's Advisory Board.

“I was speechless, absolutely speechless,” Doctor Parker said.  "He asked me if I wanted to go with him to speak to his family."

Parker said about 20 to 25 of Mohamed's family was on hand as Brown spoke with them, trying to answer questions, and convey a sense of transparency.

“You felt the heaviness in the room and some of that lifted away during the time we were there,” Parker said.

Brown said an interpreter was needed to speak to the family, most of which had moved from Kenya and English was still difficult for some.  He said the language barrier seem to result in some frustrations, but overall, thought it went well.

“I think just the fact that we were standing there in the living room with them the day after this incident spoke volumes,” Brown concluded.