- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A teenage Somali refugee who was critically wounded by police during a fight outside a homeless shelter earlier this year arrived to his first court appearance Wednesday on robbery and drug charges in a wheelchair.

The 18-year-old Abdullahi “Abdi” Mohamed declined comment after a short hearing in juvenile court where an evidentiary hearing was set for Oct. 3. Wearing a black T-shirt, he smiled as he left court and politely said, “no comment,” as he pushed himself in the wheelchair. His mother and stepfather also declined comment.

One of his attorneys, Sam Pappas, said he doesn’t know the extent or severity of Mohamed’s injuries and whether he’ll be able to walk again. Mohamed was shot four times on Feb. 27, sending him into a coma and nearly killing him.

Mohamed has not yet entered a plea. He is on the juvenile court system’s equivalent of home confinement.

The hearing came a night after a small band of people protested against police brutality and called for the resignation of a Utah prosecutor during a demonstration in Salt Lake City after the two officers who shot Mohamed were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Monday that the two officers acted appropriately because they believed Mohamed was about to seriously injure or kill a man with a metal broom stick. Gill also announced he was charging Mohamed with aggravated robbery and possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

Gill wants Mohamed charged as an adult even though Mohamed was 17 when the incident occurred. No decision is expected on that request until after the October evidentiary hearing, Pappas said.

The shooting outside the city’s bustling homeless shelter and near where the NBA’s Utah Jazz play became another flashpoint in the nation’s discussion about the use of force by police against minorities.

About 25 members of Utah Against Police Brutality and other activist groups stood on the downtown city hall steps Tuesday night holding signs that said “Disarm the Police” and renewing a call for officials to release police body camera footage of the shooting.

“Ultimately, we believe that our public officials and the city and county levels have failed to pursue justice,” said Stephen Michael Christian, a member of Utah Against Police Brutality.

The group held similar protests over the past few months where marchers blocked traffic and condemned police violence in Utah and around the country, but Tuesday night’s gathering was small.

About 50 feet away, four police officers on bicycles watched as protesters took turns on a microphone, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and chanting “Release the footage!”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah also called on authorities to release the footage, saying in a news release Wednesday that it’s disturbing that Gill described what’s in the footage during his announcement but won’t release it publicly.

Gill said he’s not releasing the footage because of the juvenile charges against Mohamed.

The Salt Lake City shooting occurred as police said they stumbled upon a fight between the teenager, a Somali refugee, and a man over $1.10 from a failed drug buy near the city’s crowded homeless shelter.

Mohamed came to the U.S. with his family in 2004 from a refugee camp in Kenya, his cousin Muslima Weledi said. Court records show he started getting in trouble with police at age 12 and spent time in juvenile detention centers for theft, trespassing and assault.

His family has disputed accounts that he was brutally attacking the man. Weledi has said that witnesses told her Mohamed had a wooden broomstick and misunderstood police commands to drop the stick.

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