Justice for Abdi? I Agree, But Here’s What “Justice for Abdi” Means
By Ken K. Gourdin
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office recently found the shooting of Abdi Mohamed, whom a Salt Lake City Police officer shot and seriously wounded after Mohamed failed to obey the officer’s command that he drop the metal broomstick which he was using as a weapon, legally justified.
By analogy, I walk with a pair of metal forearm crutches. I have enough balance that if I were to choose to use one or both of them as offensive weapons, I could inflict serious injury on someone, perhaps even killing him or her. If officers were to catch me in the act of doing so, I would expect them to meet me with deadly force. If I did not obey officers’ commands to, among other things, cease my assault, I would expect them to employ that force to protect my victim (not to mention, potentially, themselves and others: having already assaulted one victim, what assurances do they have that I will simply stop there unless they intervene?).
I believe it would be reasonable for officers to meet me with deadly force and to employ that force because of the risk of serious bodily injury or death to my victim (not to mention to others) if they were not to do so. As near as I can tell, the only differences between this case and my hypothetical scenario are: (1) Abdi’s race (which, no doubt, according to some, is the dispositive factor) and (2) my choice of weapon.
I completely agree with protestors, at least one of whom carried a sign saying, “Justice for Abdi.” I would also add, “Justice for Abdi’s Victim.” Justice for Abdi means exonerating officers of wrongdoing, since their use of force was reasonable, and it means (at a minimum) prosecuting Adbdi for, and likely convicting him of, aggravated assault and/or aggravated robbery. Aggravated assault and aggravated robbery are serious, mala in se crimea (mala in se meaning bad in and of themselves—inherently, morally wrong—rather than being wrong simply because society says so).
Sim Gill, the Salt Lake County District Attorney who investigated Abdi’s shooting, found it reasonable under Utah law based on reasoning similar to that employed in my second paragraph, above. He sought the opinion of outside use-of-force experts and of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The former agreed with his conclusions, while the latter declined to investigate.
Perhaps those who seek “Justice for Abdi” (but not for Abdi’s victim) simply conclude that since Abdi’s shooting was, a priori and sans evidence, unjustified, the opinions of the FBI and of the use-of-force experts are simply evidence of a wider conspiracy. They’re welcome to such opinions, but the burden of producing evidence to support their claim, as well as the burden of proof, rests with them.
“Ah,” they say, “but we can’t get any evidence because it is being withheld by [Sim Gill’s office, the police, the FBI, the independent use-of-force expert(s), (fill-in-the-blank, ad infinitum and ad nauseam, here)]. The withholding of evidence is, itself, evidence of the conspiracy.” And around and around it will go, and if it will ever stop (let alone where) nobody knows.
Whatever else he is or is not, Sim Gill is not simply a shill or a rubber-stamp for law enforcement. If that were true, his office would have found all instances of use of deadly force by police officers in his jurisdiction legally justified, and it has not. Two examples are the cases of Officer Matt Giles and Detective Shaun Cowley, respectively.
Regarding Giles, see here, this and all other links last accessed August 11, 2016:
Regarding Cowley, see here:
I agree with “Utahns Against Police Brutality”—except that we define “brutality” differently. According to UAPB, for example, Jose Angel Garcia Jauregui, who shot and killed one officer and shot and seriously wounded another before police, in turn, shot and killed him, is a “victim” of “police brutality.”
Thus, I can only conclude that UAPB’s definition of “brutality” includes any use of force by police, no matter what the “victim of police brutality” was doing before the force was used, regardless what the force was intended to prevent, and regardless whether the law says the force used was reasonable under the circumstances.
Regarding Jauregui, see here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865649714/Police-brutality.html?pg=all.