The family of a Somali man, who was fatally shot by Phoenix police after he allegedly threw rocks at their cars, is calling on authorities to look into the circumstances surrounding his killing.
Police in a news release said that officers fatally shot Ali Osman on September 24, NBC News reported. The fatal incident occurred after the deceased man allegedly threw “unknown items” at patrol cars that were driving around an intersection, police stated, adding that it caused damage to the vehicles.
Police also said Osman refused to stop throwing the rocks when he was instructed to stop. “That’s when the officer involved shooting occurred striking the man,” police said.
But the deceased man’s family said he struggled with mental health issues.
Quacy Smith, who is an attorney, said he believes the officers had gone to the location to respond to an unrelated incident when the fatal incident occurred. Smith also said Osman struggled with mental health issues.
“Rocks. Rocks. Not boulders. Not bricks. Rocks,” Smith said. “These are rocks no bigger than my 4-year-old son throws over the backyard to the neighbor’s house.”
Smith, who also said he was once a police officer, added that he could not “fathom a set of circumstances described to us that would warrant this young Black man being shot down by police in the streets of our city for throwing rocks.”
Smith said a video of the fatal encounter showed an individual with a purported crisis intervention background offering to have a conversation with Osman to help calm the situation. Osman was fatally shot by an officer as he made an attempt to take another rock.
A spokesperson for Phoenix police said an investigation into the incident has since been launched.
“The City of Phoenix Police Department is committed to our transparency policy,” the spokesperson said. “The department will release a Critical Incident Briefing Video within 14 days of the incident to the public that will provide facts of the case. In addition, all body worn cameras will be released.”
Mayor Kate Gallego also said she informed the police chief to prioritize the investigation, NBC News reported. “My heart goes out to Mr. Osman’s family. Our goal is always that people in our community, and our employees, return home to their families safely,” Gallego said in a statement.
“I can’t believe Ali’s gone,” Osman’s sister said tearfully during a news conference. “Ali’s not coming back. I need justice for Ali. … My life is done. Ali is like my son.”
The deceased man’s father also described his son as a “good man” who “took care of everyone.”