Prosecutors release video of shooting by police in Utah

AP News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2017 6:22 PM
Prosecutors release video of  shooting by police in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Prosecutors released videos Monday of a high-profile police shooting that show an officer firing multiple times from short range at a suspect who was wounded after refusing to drop a metal stick during a fight near the Salt Lake City homeless shelter.

Body camera video from the two officers involved show them running after a man who appears to be Abdullahi "Abdi" Mohamed and yelling, "Put it down now ... Police ... Drop it now."

Mohamed, a Somali refugee who was 17 at the time, isn't seen hitting another man in the police video, but he can be seen walking toward him with a stick in his hand.

Authorities also released surveillance videos from nearby buildings.

One shows someone who appears to be Mohamed repeatedly striking the man with a stick and knocking him off his bike. The man gets up and starts backing away while he is hit again at least two times.

Mohamed is then seen slowly walking toward the retreating man with a stick in his hand as the two police officers come running into the scene.

The footage shows one officer firing several rounds, and Mohamed dropping to the sidewalk after he's struck. He was on the ground without receiving treatment for at least five minutes, the video shows.

Officers called for paramedics quickly and they arrived within four minutes, but by then an angry crowd had gathered and it took another three or four minutes to clear a safe path to the wounded teenager, Salt Lake City police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said Monday.

The shooting near the arena where the NBA's Jazz play became another flashpoint in the nation's discussion about the use of force by police against minorities.

Utah prosecutors had long refused calls to release the footage but changed course and made it public after the police video was shown at a court hearing.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill previously had said releasing the video could affect the robbery and drug charges against Mohamed.

Gill previously ruled the February 2016 shooting legally justified. A civilian review board, though, found it was not within department's policy.

Mohamed, now 18, is accused of attacking the man while trying to take $1.10 from him during a drug deal near the Salt Lake City homeless shelter.

A friend of Mohamed testified Monday that the fight started after the man sexually harassed a female friend of the teen and Mohamed.

The two officers — Kory Checketts and Jordan Winegar — heard the fight while investigating a separate report of a stolen cellphone.

The officers testified that they believed Mohamed was carrying a heavy metal pipe or sword, and was about to use it to seriously injure or kill the other man.

The victim suffered welts and bruises in the fight. He testified that he was looking for marijuana when he encountered Mohamed, who attacked him along with a second man after he refused to buy methamphetamine instead.

Defense attorneys said the evidence doesn't rise to the level of the charges against Mohamed, but Judge Julie Lund decided Monday that there was enough evidence for the case against Mohamed to proceed.

Lund will consider Feb. 27 whether the case should stay in juvenile court or be moved to adult court, where he could face more serious penalties, as prosecutors have asked.

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Associated Press writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.