The Utah Records Committee ruled unanimously Thursday that Salt Lake County should release the body camera footage of Salt Lake City Police officers shooting and critically wounding Somali teen Abdi Mohamed. The incident occurred in February last year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah approached the Utah Records Committee after the Salt Lake County Government Records Access and Management or GRAMA Appeals Board denied their request to release the footage.
ACLU attorney Leah Farrell says the public should see the footage because it involves law enforcement officers using deadly force.
“I think that they saw what we have been saying all along, that these records don’t fall under the reasons that the county and the city have given to restrict them,” Farrell says. “And that they’re very important for the public to see. The public needs to make up their own mind about what happened and the behavior of the officers and I’m excited that we’re one step closer to having those released.”
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has denied multiple requests to release the footage. He argues it could compromise a criminal case against Mohamed who police shot four times outside homeless shelter. According to court records, the officers were trying to stop Mohamed from assaulting a man in an apparent drug dispute.
Gill cleared officers of wrongdoing. Mohamed now faces federal charges.
Deputy Salt Lake County district attorney Darcy Goddard says the office is inclined to appeal.
“My office has always contended it’s not that we don’t want to release the video, it’s that we want to release it at the right time and with the right authority and for us that includes a decision from a court,” Goddard says.
The records committee also voted to release some surveillance footage and crime scene photos. The county has 30 days to appeal.