SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The 17-year-old Somali refugee who was critically wounded in a high-profile police shooting in Salt Lake City is awake and talking.
Abdi Mohamed's cousin Muslima Weledi said Monday he woke up from his medically induced coma but remains on painkillers. She told the Associated Press that when she visited him on Saturday he couldn't move his right leg and was waiting on an MRI.
"The doctors told him the bullet missed his heart by an inch," Weledi said. "He got very lucky."
Mohamed, who came to the U.S. with his family in 2004, was shot twice in the torso late last month when officers tried to stop him and another person from beating a man, police said.
Mohamed can now sit up and has been working with a speech therapist, Weledi said.
She said he doesn't remember why he was shot. He only remembers meeting his friends, traveling to a homeless shelter in downtown Salt Lake City and breaking a broomstick in half.
Police have said that Mohamed and a second person were beating a man with some type of metal sticks when officers intervened Feb. 27. Officers fired after he moved menacingly toward the man who was beaten instead of immediately obeying a command to drop the stick, police said.
The teen's friends dispute that version of what happened. Friend Selam Mohammad said the fight started after a stranger made a comment about Abdi Mohamed's girlfriend, and the other man was also armed with a stick.
Unified Police Detective Chuck Malm declined to say if police have interviewed Mohamed, citing the ongoing investigation.
The shooting touched off unrest in the bustling downtown area not far from the arena where the NBA's Utah Jazz play. The public outcry continued as police refused to release the video until the investigation into the shooting is complete.
Weledi said there will be a rally on Friday evening to demand the release of the footage.
Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill said his office is still reviewing the case. Gill said releasing the video too early could complicate or compromise his investigation into whether the shooting was justified.
Gill said he hopes the process will be finished in the next few weeks. "I want this done as quickly as possible, but as thoroughly as possible as well," he said.