This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Demonstrators gathered outside the Matheson Courthouse on Wednesday in support of now-18-year-old Abdullahi "Abdi" Mohamed, who faces felony charges after being shot by police during an alleged drug dispute in February near a Salt Lake City homeless shelter.
"Drop the charges! Release the footage!" chanted a group of about 10 protesters who met on the courthouse steps.
The morning protest was held in conjunction with a scheduled Wednesday afternoon hearing for Mohamed, who was charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court in connection with a Feb. 27 fight that ended when Salt Lake City police officers shot Mohamed near 200 South and Rio Grande, outside the Road Home shelter.
Mohamed, who was 17 years old at the time of shooting, is accused of assaulting another man after a dispute about a drug purchase. He is charged with first-degree felony aggravated robbery and second-degree felony drug possession with intent to distribute..
The Wednesday court hearing largely revolved around whether Mohamed should remain in the Juvenile Justice Services's custody for prior offenses, which include alcohol possession and threat of assault. Judge Julie Lund opted to keep the teenager in juvenile custody where he is supervised but remains at home at least until a Jan. 23 preliminary hearing is held. The judge also stressed that Mohamed should work harder to attend his physical therapy sessions, along with therapy for post-traumatic stress order.
Lund also ordered that Mohamed stay away from the downtown homeless shelters and Pioneer Park while in JJS custody. Mohamed told the judge that he still frequents those areas because he has family and friends who hang out there.
"That area does have a very negative reputation," the judge told Mohamed. "As you are aware, the neighborhood is not the safest place."
After hearing evidence in January about the alleged crimes, Lund will decide whether there is probable cause for the case to move forward. If she does the bind the case over for trial, a two-day hearing is set in late February where Lund will hear further evidence and decide whether the case should remain in juvenile court or whether Mohamed should face charges as an adult. If sent to the adult system, Mohamed could face up to life in prison if convicted of the robbery charge.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has said Mohamed was hitting another male with what appeared to be a metal stick when officers shot him. Gill ruled the shooting justified because he said the officers had reason to believe Mohamed likely would inflict serious injury.
However, the city's Civilian Review Board reviewed the officer's body camera footage and reported that Mohamed's alleged victim did not show signs of being injured or that he was afraid of being injured by the hollow broom handle Mohamed was found to be carrying, and that the fight appeared to break up as officers arrived. They found that the shooting was not within police department policy.
Gill has refused to release the body cam video because of the criminal case pending against Mohamed.
Mohamed was hospitalized for several weeks after the shooting and continues to use a wheelchair.
Protester Stephen Michael Christian said Wednesday that Mohamed was charged "in retaliation for not dying as he was expected to after being shot four times."
"We cannot see the police as our partners," Christian added.
Several of the same protesters staged a sit-in Monday at Gill's downtown office; Gill was not there but called them and scheduled a "dialogue meeting" for Friday, protesters confirmed.
Christian said he was not optimistic.
"Dialogue just leads to more dialogue," he said. "We don't want dialogue, we don't want bulls-. We want justice."