On Saturday night, two Salt Lake City officers shot a black teenager in his torso because he refused orders to drop his weapon — a broomstick. The shooting, which left the teen in critical condition, led to clashes between protesters and police.
The Salt Lake City Police Department says the shooting occurred when two officers saw two men, including 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed, attacking another man with metal objects. In the officers’ version of events, Mohamed refused to drop his weapon and moved to attack the victim, prompting the officers to open fire.
But witness Selam Mohammad says that his friend was holding a broomstick and “barely even turned around” before the officers started shooting.
“We were trying to break it up before the police even came, but the police ran in on foot and pulled their guns out already,” he told KSTU. “They already had them, like, as soon as he was running he was already grabbing for his gun, not even trying to Tase him or anything.” Mohammad also told the Salt Lake Tribune that officers ordered his friend to put the object down one time and “started shooting him as soon as he turned around.”
Mohamed was hit in the upper and lower torso. He was in a coma the following morning, but has since woken up.
An investigation is currently under way, and the two shooting officers have submitted footage from the body cameras they were wearing at the time of the incident.
According to scathing findings reported by the Salt Lake Tribune in 2014, fatal police shootings have become an epidemic in Utah. From 2010 to October 2014, 45 people were killed by cops. Officers committed 15 percent of all homicides, surpassing the number of people murdered by gang members, drug, dealers, and child abusers. One officer was charged for manslaughter during that time period, and a judge dismissed the case.