Somali Immigrants Protest Fatal Shooting

Members of the Somali community in Columbus rallied this afternoon at City Hall to protest the fatal shooting of a local man they say was mentally ill. 23-year-old Nasir Abdi was shot Wednesday as four Franklin County deputies tried to return him to a mental hospital where he had been forced to take medication. Columbus police say Abdi threatened deputies with a kitchen knife.

Several hundred Somalis, many carrying signs protesting the shooting, walked several times around city hall this afternoon. Later, Liivaan Ismail, who said he was speaking on behalf of the community, described the killing as “senseless.”

“We are gathered here to show our great pain and outrage and frustration at the senseless killing of this young man,” Ismail said.

23-year-old Nasir Abdi – who Ismail described as mentally ill — died Wednesday after a confrontation with four Franklin County sheriff’s deputies who tried to return him to a mental hospital. Ismail said the deputies should have handled the situation differently.

“Nasir Abdi had mental health problems. The sheriff’s deputies were dispatched for the exact purpose of taking Nasir Abdi to a mental health facility to regulate his medication. The sheriffs knew that the subject was unstable and agitated. Instead, Nasir Abdi was brutally shot and killed by the deputies. This is not right. City and county leaders must not ignore this situation. We urge and plead that a proper investigation of this senseless killing be undertaken, and the unnecessary death of a community member not be in vain,” said Ismail.

A woman with a megaphone walked through the crowd shouting, “We need justice! We need justice! They kill our children. They’re killing us! They’re killing us!”

There were a few Somali flags at the protest and a group of women sang the Somali national anthem. Down the block, James Baldridge stood with a sign in support of sheriff’s deputies and police officers.

“They basically have politicized this whole situation and I think it’s just a matter of the police having to defend themselves. And I think that more people should come out and support the police officers who put their lives on the line every day for us,” Baldridge said.

Sean Rowley, who stood with the protestors, said a thorough inquiry should be made.

“I’m just here to support accountability for the police department and to make sure that when there’s a killing by the police, that there’s an inquiry to make sure that people are held responsible who should be held responsible,” Rowley said.

Sam Hendren, WOSU News…