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Teen shot by police makes first court appearance in wheelchair

(Pat Reavy, Deseret News)


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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — A man shot by two Salt Lake police officers after allegedly robbing and beating another man made his initial appearance in juvenile court Wednesday.

Abdullahi "Abdi" Mohamed, 18, is accused of using a metal broomstick to attack another man on Rio Grande Street near the homeless shelter in February while robbing him of approximately $1.10. After police say he disobeyed orders from two officers to stop and drop his weapon, he was shot four times.

On Monday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced that the two officers were justified in using deadly force. He also announced that criminal charges were filed against Mohamed in 3rd District Juvenile Court. He is charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, and drug possession with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony.

Prosecutors also filed a petition to have Mohamed, who was 17 when he was shot, certified to stand trial as an adult.

Following the shooting, Mohamed remained in a medically induced coma for several weeks. On Wednesday, he arrived at the courthouse in a wheelchair, which he did not get out of the entire time he was in the building. His attorney, Sam Pappas, said he was "wheelchair-bound" but did not know if that was a permanent condition.

During Mohamed's brief hearing Wednesday, he waived his right to a hearing within 30 days after his attorney and prosecutors cited the large amount of evidence in the case. A full-day preliminary hearing was scheduled for Oct. 3. Until that time, Mohamed was ordered to remain under house arrest.

It was unknown whether some of that evidence includes the much talked about video recording from the Salt Lake police officers' body cameras that captured the shooting. Gill has declined multiple requests to release the video to the public. He reaffirmed Monday his decision not to release it, citing the ongoing court proceedings.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement condemning Gill's decision.

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"We are shocked and dismayed that the government still refuses to release the body camera and surveillance video footage, which the public has the right to review under Utah law,” said ACLU attorney John Mejia. “It is disturbing that a prosecutor would publicly describe the footage in a way that is positive to the government’s version of events, but we are not allowed to see that footage for ourselves.”

Mejia said the district attorney originally refused to release the video because of the investigation into the shooting. Now it's because of the court case, he said.

“The county has defended its lack of transparency in refusing to release the footage by asserting that it seeks to protect the impartiality and integrity of their investigation and prosecution of Abdi,” said Mejia. “Yet today, the county has publicly asserted that Abdi was engaged in serious criminal wrongdoing and, at the same time, publicly cleared the involved officers of any wrongdoing. In making these announcements, the county gave an account of the still-withheld footage that was favorable to the officers, and disclosed other information that is also relevant to the prosecution.

"The public deserves to see the footage, not just hear the government’s selective version of the footage, to help us make up our own minds on issues such as whether the county’s decision is correct and whether there needs to be accountability or policy change in the wake of this incident.”

Neither Mohamed nor his parents had any comment for reporters as they left the courthouse Wednesday.

After the preliminary hearing is completed, there will be a hearing to determine whether Mohamed's case should be moved into the adult court system.

As for whether the shooting could end up being a factor in the aggravated robbery case, Pappas said "time will tell."

"The court will basically decide what's relevant for the purposes of the preliminary hearing," he said.

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Pat Reavy

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