Statement on the Verdict in the Case of Mohamed Bah

(New York, 11/15/17)  The Majlis Ash-Shura of New York expresses its gratitude to Allah, for the just verdict in the civil trial of NYPD officers charged with the killing of 28 year-old Mohammed Bah, in Harlem, NYC five years ago. Unfortunately, this local case of police use of excessive and deadly force had been all but completely ignored over the years, in the light of other more widely publicized similar incidents.

In 2012 Mohamed’s mother Hawa, an entrepreneur from Guinea, West Africa, came to New York to check on the well-being of her son, whom she had sent to America to study in preparation for leadership in the family business. He graduated from high school here in the city with honors, and was attending college. However upon arrival, our Muslim sister found her son mentally disoriented and seemingly suffering from emotional distress. A day later she decided to call 9-1-1 to request an ambulance to take her son to the hospital. The resulting scenario has become all too familiar for New Yorkers. Officers of the NYPD arrived on the scene before the requested ambulance. Less than an hour later, Mohamed Bah was dead – shot eight times in the body and head at point-blank range, by the police. This happened after they broke down the apartment door of the alone, undoubtedly frightened young man, after hearing him praying in arabic. He had refused to admit them.

As usual, the NYPD ‘s position was and is that the situation, while tragic, was unavoidable. A Manhattan grand jury, acting in a closed proceeding, declined to indict the police. Federal authorities decided not to pursue criminal charges. This left a civil trial as the family’s only remaining option for some measure of justice. In spite of hidden or misplaced, or contaminated evidence, and the resources of a mighty NYPD public relations machine – the mercy of God, truth, and the good judgment of the trial’s jurors prevailed. The NYPD version of the tragic event – that a crazed Bah charged officers with a knife causing one of them, Edwin Mateo, to shoot him five times – was proven false.

Jurors found the officer’s use of excessive and deadly force unjustified, and the on scene supervisor culpable for failure to control the situation. The suffering family, led by the efforts of the faithful and dignified mother persevered for five years in its efforts to secure a measure of justice. Her husband, also named Mohamed, was disabled by a stroke, and remained in Guinea unable to travel.  The family was supported in its efforts primarily by the work and dedication of the Justice Committee (a local group of activists), and The Micah Justice Table – a multi-faith coalition of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faith leaders. Throughout the trial, prayers of invocation for mercy, strength, truth and justice were constantly offered on behalf of the family.  Then on the eve of jury deliberation, Hawa Bah requested that people pray to Allah on behalf not only of herself and family, but as she stated ” vulnerable Black and Brown people” in American society. Thousands responded and yesterday (Tuesday, November 14th), their prayers were answered.

“I want for my son’s legacy to be that no other mother suffers as I have” Hawa Bah said. That is our prayer as well.