This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A teenage boy shot by police was in critical condition Sunday after having undergone surgery.

Salt Lake City police said that they will not identify the 17-year-old victim, who was shot in his upper and lower torso Saturday night. Local television news, however, identified the teen as Abdi Mohamed.

About 8 p.m. Saturday, officers were responding to a call downtown when they were alerted to an assault in progress, according to police. Officers saw two males "with metal objects attacking a male victim" near 250 S. Rio Grande St., the Salt Lake City Police Department said in a statement Sunday afternoon. "Officers confronted the two suspects and ordered them to drop the weapons. One of the males complied and dropped the weapon, the other continued to advance on the victim and was shot by officers."

The shooting erupted during a busy night downtown, with a Utah Jazz game at the nearby Vivint arena and comedian Margaret Cho visiting the Wiseguys comedy club at The Gateway mall, across the street from where the shooting occurred.

Selam Mohammad, 19, who was on the scene, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the shooting victim and a man were in a confrontation, and that the victim was holding part of a broomstick at his side when officers ran up.

"They told him to put it down, once," Mohammad said, and "started shooting him as soon as he turned around." Mohammad said the police fired four times and that the teenager was hit in the chest and stomach.

The 17-year-old is being screened for criminal charges, according to Salt Lake City police. Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking declined to specify what kind of charges.

The two officers involved in the shooting were wearing active body cameras. The footage has been turned over to investigators.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski, in a statement Sunday afternoon, said she was "deeply saddened and concerned by the events that took place in Downtown Salt Lake City last night. While the shooting is still under investigation, there is no doubt what happened is a tragedy for all involved and for our entire city.

"The use of force by law enforcement against the public can tear at the delicate balance of trust between both sides, and must be taken extremely seriously," Biskupski said. She added that she is confident in Unified Police Department and Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, which are investigating.

In a separate statement, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said his department's goal is to always de-escalate any "volatile situation," with the minimal amount of force necessary, and that it's committed to ensuring it "does business appropriately, in line with the community's trust and expectations."

After the shooting, there were "a lot of hostile people upset about what had taken place," Wilking said Saturday night. Salt Lake Tribune journalists saw onlookers throwing rocks and yelling obscenities at police.

Officers asked the crowd to evacuate, but "numerous individuals" failed to comply with this request, according to Salt Lake City police. Officers arrested four people for "crimes related to civil disorder."

Unified Police Detective Ken Hansen said one officer was hit with a bottle, but he did not have details about whether that officer or any others were injured.

Neighboring departments, including Unified Police Department, West Valley City, Sandy and University of Utah police, arrived to assist Salt Lake City officers. In all, almost 100 officers, some carrying riot shields, arrived on the scene.

At 8:40 p.m., a line of officers moved people down the sidewalk on the south side of 200 South, from Rio Grande to 400 West.

Police blocked off the Rio Grande area and the Trax Blue Line was stopped before the Old Greektown stop, which caused difficulties for some fans leaving the Jazz game. The TRAX trains resumed about 11 p.m.

Saturday's shooting comes amid ongoing debates about police policies and use of force. Only a few hours before the shooting, activists had rallied on the steps of the City-County Building to decry what they see as a lack of accountability and to demand reforms, including how Salt Lake City police officers' conduct is reviewed.

Biskupski, in her statement, said that she is "cognizant that this is the third significant use of force incident for the Salt Lake City Police Department in the last month."

On Jan. 31, police shot and wounded Palm Samiuel Lautaimi after they tried to talk to him about an undisclosed matter. He allegedly "became violent" and ran, with the officers in pursuit; shots were fired a short time later. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office has yet to rule whether the shooting was justified.

On Feb. 3, a police officer confronted Leon Dane Hall, who allegedly struck the officer on the head with a wrought-iron lawn ornament, cutting off his ear and gashing the lawman's forehead. The officer, aided by other officers arriving at the scene, subdued the suspect with his baton and stun gun.

Salt Lake City police are investigating whether excessive force was used in arresting Hall.

"This morning, I had a serious conversation with Police Chief Brown and members of his team to review details about each of these incidents, including a discussion on training and whether de-escalation efforts could have been implemented," Biskupski said. "These conversations will continue in the weeks to come, will include members of the community, and must result in meaningful change."

Biskupski has also requested Brown reach out to the family of the 17-year-old, who KSTU and KSL reported is originally from Kenya. The mayor also asked the chief to meet personally with members of the police reform community.

In response to the shooting, the activist group Utah Against Police Brutality is planning to hold a protest at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building, 125 S. State St., at 6 p.m. Monday, according to a Facebook event page. As of about 5 p.m., more than 600 people indicated that they would show up.

The group is also calling for "scores" of people to call Biskupski's office on Monday and demand the creation of a new civilian board to review police conduct.

"Tomorrow, Salt Lake City cannot ignore what happened this weekend," according to a Facebook post by the group. "… We need a radical change in police-community relations."

Per protocol, both officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, pending the result of the investigation.

Wilking encouraged anyone with information about the shooting to contact the police.

— Tribune online editor Rich Kane and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Twitter: @MikeyPanda

comments powered by Disqus