A teenager was shot four times by police at about 8 p.m. Friday, in the Rio Grande District of Salt Lake City, Utah, according to a report from Fox 13, and riots have broken out in response. The victim, later identified as 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed, remains in a coma.
While details are still sketchy, it is alleged that police were responding to an unrelated incident when they received reports of a fight between a teenager and an older man. The teenager was wielding a broomstick.
According to one witness, Selam Mohammed, the police ordered the teenager to drop the broomstick, but shot him before he could comply with the order.
“They told him to put it down, once.”
“[The police] started shooting him as soon as he turned around.”
Mohammed said that the victim was his friend and confirmed his age, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The state of the teenager’s wounds is currently unknown, but Mohammed indicated that he had been shot in the chest and stomach.
“The police said, ‘Drop it’ once, then they shot him four times. 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. 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… He said ‘Drop it’ [then] ‘Boom, boom!’ four times.”
Police have confirmed that it was an officer-involved shooting and that two officers were involved, and the victim was rushed to hospital.
After the shooting, locals began shouting and throwing rocks at police officers, and the Salt Lake City Police called in neighboring departments to assist; in all, over 100 officers from Unified Police Department, West Valley City, Sandy and University of Utah police arrived in riot gear to assist the Salt Lake City Police officers.
As the riot progressed, police closed a local LRT (Light Rapid Transit) stop and began moving people down the sidewalk, away from the scene.
Detective Greg Wilking confirmed that “shots were fired,” and said that there were “a lot of hostile people upset about what had taken place.” He confirmed that the police had detained multiple people, but would not explain why.
The Tribune also noted that there were a number of homeless shelters in the area, and that local business owners have long complained about drug dealing and the nearby homeless population. They did not explain how that is relevant to this story, however.
The crowd, which was nearby at the time of the shooting, was significant, and people were shouting obscenities, as well as hurling rocks, bottles and other debris; Salt Lake City Police indicated that some officers may have been injured.
Reports from Twitter, meanwhile, indicate that the teenage victim was black, and that the homeless population was barred from the area following the shooting. Some reports recalled the death of Dillon Taylor, a 20-year-old man who was shot and killed by Salt Lake City Police in 2014; it was later confirmed that he was unarmed at the time, although the officer involved was cleared of wrongdoing.
Selam Muhammed was stopped by an unarmed officer with his hand on his gun as he attempted to leave the scene.
Meanwhile, KSL has indicated that United Police will be conducting the investigation into the shooting, and that Detective Wilking has refused to confirm if there is police body camera footage available.
“There was an altercation taking place, and our officers intervened into that altercation.”
“It was a very active scene for the officers involved down there. They needed other officers to respond. Very upset…people are emotional right now.”
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]