“This is a victory for everyone,” Hawa Bah, Mohamed’s mother, told the Militant. “It will help ensure that other mothers do not face what I faced. It will protect my son’s legacy and protect the lives of other Black and brown young men.”
Mohamed Bah, a 28-year-old student and taxi driver, was killed Sept. 25, 2012, after his mother called 911 to ask for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. She had flown in from her native Guinea because her son was suffering from depression.
Instead of medical help, nine heavily armed cops arrived. They refused to allow her back into the apartment to speak with her son. Bah was hit by several bullets, the final and fatal shot while he was lying on the ground.
The jury also found that Lt. Michael Licitra, who was in charge, had lost control over the cops.
Earlier this year, a federal prosecutor refused to seek an indictment of any of the officers, claiming insufficient evidence. A Manhattan grand jury in 2013 voted against bringing any criminal charges for similar reasons. Initially the city said that the knife that police claim Bah was threatening them with was lost. But in 2015 they changed their story, saying it wasn’t lost, it had just been “contaminated” in Hurricane Sandy.
At first the city said the clothing Mohamed Bah was wearing when he was killed had been destroyed by the hospital. Then they claimed the garments had been brought to the funeral home with his body. Suddenly, on Nov. 3, several days into the civil trial, city officials informed the court and the Bah family’s attorneys that the clothing was, in fact, in NYPD custody.
“It is unforgivable to me that, either through malevolence or incompetence, this would not have been discovered,” Judge Kevin Castel said to the court.
“This was a cover-up,” Hawa Bah stated. “For five years they kept evidence that might have helped us convict the cops.”
The city says it will appeal the verdict and will also try to avoid paying the award by claiming immunity. “We have every expectation that this judge will allow this jury’s verdict to stand,” Randolph McLaughlin, a Bah family attorney, told the press.
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