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As the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation holds
protests in several cities today, we bring you the shocking story of Mohamed Bah, a 28-year-old college student from the African nation of Guinea. He was shot dead by New York City police officers on September 25, 2012. Police arrived at Mohamed Bah’s apartment after his mother, Hawa Bah, called 911 because she thought he was depressed, and wanted an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Police claimed he lunged at officers with a knife. But many questions remain unanswered. We are joined by Hawa and her attorneys, Mayo Bartlett and Randolph McLaughlin, both longtime civil rights attorneys.
Click here to watch part 2 of this segment about a similar case involving the police murder of a bipolar Puerto Rican artist whose wife called 911 for medical help.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: As the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation holds protests in several cities today, we bring you a shocking story about two eerily similar police killings in the New York area. In both cases, a family member called 911 seeking help dealing with a distressed loved one. Both cases ended with the police killing the man they were called on to help.
Mohamed Bah was shot dead by New York City police officers on September 25th, 2012. Bah was a 28-year-old college student from the African nation of Guinea. Samuel Cruz was shot dead by police in New Rochelle, New York, on May 26, 2013. Cruz was 48 years old. He was an artist from Puerto Rico. In both cases, police say the men were shot after they lunged at officers with a knife. But many questions remain unanswered.
Police arrived at Mohamed Bah’s apartment after his mother, Hawa Bah, called 911 because she thought he was depressed, and she wanted an ambulance to take him to the hospital. In Samuel Cruz’s case, his wife, Elsa, called 911 because she was worried her husband had stopped taking medication for his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Both women join us in a Democracy Now! exclusive today. The Cruz family is filing a lawsuit today against the New Rochelle Police Department. The Bah family has already sued the NYPD. We’realso joined by the attorneys for both families, Mayo Bartlett and Randolph McLaughlin, both longtime civil rights attorneys who also represented the family of Kenneth Chamberlain, the White Plains, New York, Marine veteran who was shot dead by police in 2011 in his home after he accidentally set off his medical alert pendant early in the morning.
We invited representatives from both the New York City and New Rochelle police departments to join us today.
We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Randolph McLaughlin, can you just give us a summary of the case of Mohamed Bah?
RANDOLPH McLAUGHLIN: In Mohamed Bah’s case, his mother called 911 hoping to get an ambulance to come and take her son to the hospital. Two officers arrived, and she explained to them, "I didn’t call the police; I wanted an ambulance." And they explained to her that "The way it works in New York is we come first and check on the situation, and then we’ll get the ambulance." She and the two officers went upstairs to the fifth floor in the apartment building, and the officers knocked on Mr. Bah’s door. He opened the door. And when he saw the officers, he said, "I didn’t call you. You’ve got the wrong door." And he tried to shut the door. Instead, they forced their way in, and there was a little struggle back and forth with the door. But at no time did he yell at them. At no time did he brandish a weapon. He shut the door and locked it.