- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Attorneys for a Somali refugee shot by police showed body camera video of the February 2016 incident in court Wednesday in hopes of persuading a judge to keep drug and robbery charges against the teenager in juvenile court.

The video demonstrates that Abdullahi “Abdi” Mohamed’s actions don’t warrant sending him to adult court, said defense attorney Lacey Singleton outside after she played it in the courtroom without saying anything.

Singleton said the footage shows Mohamed was not racing toward the man he was fighting or striking him when officers fired multiple times from close range at Mohamed after he refused to drop a metal stick during a fight. Mohamed, now 19, survived but is still in a wheelchair.

“There was no increased urgency on either part,” said Singleton, of the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association. “The video is just shocking to see. I think he’s already been punished enough.”

She considered but decided against asking the judge for permission to let the author of a police civilian review board testify about why the group determined that the officers didn’t follow department policy. Prosecutor Mike Colby had already said he would object to that.

Colby says it’s important to separate the shooting from what Mohamed did before that, which led Mohamed to be charged with aggravated robbery and possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

Colby noted that a judge already determined after an evidentiary hearing that there’s enough evidence to send the case to trial. The video was shown during that hearing.

Prosecutors cleared the two officers of wrongdoing before the civilian review board found the fight appeared to have calmed down and that officers didn’t follow department guidelines.

Mohamed was 17 at the time of the incident outside a Salt Lake City homeless shelter near the arena where the NBA’s Utah Jazz play in what became another flashpoint in the nation’s discussion about the use of force by police against minorities. The shooting sparked unrest and protests.

Prosecutors said the fight began after a failed drug deal and a dispute over $1.10 near the city’s bustling homeless shelter.

Juvenile Judge Julie Lund said she will decide Friday whether to keep the case in juvenile court after attorneys from both sides give closing arguments.

Colby said Mohamed should be tried in adult court due to the severity of the crime, his extensive prior history in juvenile court and how close he was to his 18th birthday when the incident occurred.

“We looked at all those factors,” Colby said.

Since the 2016 incident, Mohamed has also been charged with public urination and having alcohol in a park, online court records show. He pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from a Feb. 25 incident.

Singleton counters that adult prison is no place for a young man like Mohamed who would be exposed to hardened criminals. A social work expert testified for the defense in the first day of the hearing Monday that research shows juveniles thrown into adult prisons only learn to become “better criminals.”

Singleton acknowledged that Mohamed was engaged in some wrongdoing in the incident, but said prosecutors overcharged him.

“The shooting and the publicity surrounding is a large part of the reason we are here today,” Singleton said. “In our opinion the only reason you would send somebody to adult court is to incarcerate them. That would not be good for Abdi. He’s not a danger to the community.”

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