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Demonstrators at S.L. City Council meeting demand change in oversight of police shootings

Demonstrators at S.L. City Council meeting demand change in oversight of police shootings

(Chris Samuels/Deseret News)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — About two dozen activists held signs at a Salt Lake City Council meeting Tuesday in a protest for more independent control of the city's Civilian Review Board that examines police shootings.

The demonstrators, most of them members of Utah Against Police Brutality, held large cardboard signs reading "Community Control Now" and "Justice for Abdi."

Abdullahi "Abdi" Mohamed, 17, was shot by Salt Lake police near the The Road Home shelter on Rio Grande Street on Feb. 27. Mohamed was advancing on a man whom he had been beating with a metal broom or mop handle when he was shot, Salt Lake police have said.

The shooting of Mohamed prompted a substantial protest of the incident a few days later in downtown Salt Lake, where demonstrators said police were unjustified in their actions.

Since that time, Utah Against Police Brutality has been pushing for reforms to the civilian body that overlooks officer-involved shootings. The advocacy group has sat in on one other City Council meeting this spring and both times has demanded that the Civilian Review Board be chosen by direct election rather than through appointment.

Jacob Jensen, a Utah Against Police Brutality member, said a reimagining of the board would lead to improved civilian oversight of police shootings.

"The (Civilian Review Board) is a failed experiment," he told City Council.

Jensen criticized the City Council for relegating comments from Utah Against Police Brutality to the public comment portion of the meeting, which was held after about 90 minutes of deliberation on other agenda items.

"The council is not … very serious about these efforts," Jensen said. "But we're not going away."

Nick Godfrey, another demonstrator, said the group is serious about demanding change.

"We are going to be here and demand justice for (Mohamed) for as long as it takes," Godfrey told City Council.

Unjustified police shootings are a problem nationwide and Salt Lake is no exception, Godfrey said.

"We are a nation that kills people every year (with) executions on the street," he said. "It's absolutely clear that we need to hold police officers accountable."

Samantha Stott asked the City Council to push for the body camera footage from the incident to be released. Salt Lake police have so far declined to publicly release body camera footage, saying they have done so at the request of the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, which is still reviewing the shooting.

"I was appalled, upset and sadly unsurprised," Stott said of the shooting and what she says is the lack of public information in its aftermath.

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Ben Lockhart

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