(ATLANTA, GA - 4/29/2018) -- The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) and The Awad Law Firm today announced that they have agreed to represent the family of Shukri Said, a mentally-ill Georgia woman shot and killed by law enforcement in Johns Creek on April 28.
Woman Killed in Johns Creek Officer-Involved Shooting Identified
[MEDIA NOTE: CAIR-Georgia and The Awad Firm plan to hold a media availability on Monday, April 30, between 11 am and 2 pm. Any interested media outlets can contact CAIR-Georgia for a time slot and location information. The family will not be conducting any direct interviews as they mourn and make funeral arrangements.]
"Shukri Said was and is loved by her family members, who called 911 out of love for her, not fear of her," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-Georgia. "We do not yet know all of the facts related to this incident. What we do know for sure is that mental illness should never be a death sentence."
CAIR-Georgia and The Awad Firm have agreed to help the family of the victim determine how the shooting happened, why the shooting happened and whether Shukri's civil rights were violated.
CAIR-Georgia is also calling on all law enforcement agencies across the state to mandate body cameras for their officers, and to review ways to peacefully de-escalate conflicts with mentally ill individuals.
"We encourage every Georgia law enforcement agency, including the Johns Creek Police Department, to mandate body cameras for all of their officers," said Murtaza Khwaja, staff attorney for CAIR-Georgia. "We also encourage every police department to reevaluate ways to peacefully deescalate conflicts with mentally-ill individuals."
Hours after the shooting, CAIR-Georgia and family members of the victim met with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to discuss the shooting. The family was satisfied by GBI's pledge to conduct a thorough investigation, and the family encourages the GBI to continue to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible.
In a statement issued on behalf of the family, CAIR-Georgia executive director, attorney Edward Ahmed Mitchell, and The Awad Firm founder, attorney Ibrahim Awad, said:
"The Georgia Bureau of Investigation must conduct a thorough, transparent and independent investigation of this incident. Any footage of the shooting should be shared with the family as soon as possible. Furthermore, state investigators should immediately interview all of the officers involved in the incident.
"We do not yet know how or why this shooting happened. What we do know is that mental illness should never be a death sentence.
"Early Saturday morning, Shukri Said's older sister called 911 to seek mental health assistance for the 36-year-old woman, who has suffered from bipolar disorder and other mental illness for eight years.
"The family called 911 out of love for Shukri, not fear of her. They specifically reported that Shukri was mentally ill, and they expected an ambulance to take her to a hospital. They did not expect her arrest, much less her death.
"Again, we do not yet know whether this police shooting was justified or unjustified. It is possible that law enforcement failed to properly deescalate conflict with a woman they knew to be mentally ill.
"It is also possible that law enforcement reacted differently to Shukri, a Somali-American woman who was reportedly wearing a hijab and a dress at the time of the shooting, than they would have reacted to another individual.
"But it is also possible that law enforcement may ultimately be able to explain what happened to the family's satisfaction. No one should jump to any conclusions about these issues before we learn all of the facts.
"While we await the results of the investigation, we encourage every Georgia law enforcement agency, including the Johns Creek Police Department, to mandate body cameras for all officers. We also encourage every police department to reevaluate and implement tactics used to peacefully deescalate conflicts with mentally ill individuals.
"Shukri Said was, and is, loved by her family. As people of faith, they take comfort in the belief that she has returned to God. But the family cannot rest until they know what happened to Shukri, why it happened, and how law enforcement plans to ensure that an incident like this never happens again.
"The family of a mentally ill person must be able to call for help without fear that making the call will lead to the death of their loved one."
Community members are being urged to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report
CAIR launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
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CONTACT: Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director, 404-285-9530, firstname.lastname@example.org