'He didn't deserve this': Family, friends of man fatally shot by Phoenix officers seek answers

Phoenix police.
Phoenix police.

The family of Ali Osman, 34, who was shot and killed by Phoenix police Saturday, is left looking for answers after police say Osman was throwing rocks at patrol cars, causing officers to open fire.

"Unfortunately, today we add another name to that list, to the list of folks that were not armed with deadly weapons, people of color that were shot and killed by police officers unjustifiably in this nation," Quacy Smith, an attorney representing Osman's family, said at a news conference held on Tuesday.

What happened at 19th and Glendale?

Officers who were patrolling the area near 19th and Glendale avenues said they saw a man, later identified as Osman, throwing rocks at one of the patrol cars, according to Sgt. Brian Bower, a spokesperson with Phoenix police.

Police tried to contact Osman and told him to stop, but he continued throwing rocks at them, according to Bower. Then officers shot Osman. He was taken to a hospital where he died, Bower said.

Smith said, as a former police officer, he couldn't fathom how that situation could have risen to the level of using force.

"(They were) rocks, not boulders, not bricks, rocks," Smith said.

Even if an officer got hit by a rock, Smith said it didn't justify the use of deadly force, and added that less lethal options, such as a stun gun, could have de-escalated the situation. He said those other options weren't used by officers.

"Police chose to take a very non-violent, non-deadly situation and make it deadly," Smith said.

Krynsky said he couldn't share additional information regarding the incident, such as how many officers shot at Osman or how many times he was struck due to the ongoing investigation. He also said the investigation will determine if the protocol officers have for those situations was followed.

For subscribers: Shootings involving Phoenix police for the first half of 2022 are higher than all of 2021

'Please stand up with us to fight'

Osman lived in Tucson and was in Phoenix visiting relatives, according to family and friends of his who spoke at the news conference. He had been treated for mental health issues and didn't have a violent criminal history, Smith said.

Osman's close friend, Loay Alyousfi, said he was the most selfless person he had met and that "he didn't deserve this."

Halima Osman, his sister, said he was a good man who cared about his family and was close to them.

"I can't believe Ali is gone and he's not coming back," Halima Osman said in tears.

Osman's father spoke in his native language, Somali, and said his son was the type of man who wanted to help and take care of everyone, said Ikran Aden, Osman's niece who was translating.

The father said he wants to know why his son was killed and that he would speak about what happened every day until he gets justice, according to Aden.

Aden also spoke at the conference and said what police told them about the situation didn't add up.

“We didn’t even receive an apology from (police). They try make it seem like he was in the wrong, but I know my uncle was not that type of person… I know he listened… I know he complied,” Aden said.

She said she was there to seek justice for her uncle and for everybody who faces police brutality.

“Please stand up with us to fight for my uncle and to fight for every family member that has died due to police violence,” Aden said.

Smith said the family wants transparency and disclosure from the city of Phoenix and said they would be filing a lawsuit.

"There are questions that need to be answered, and we will get them. We will get justice for this young man," Smith said.

Phoenix police, MCAO investigation pending

Phoenix police spokesperson Sgt. Phil Krynsky said they would release a critical incident briefing video with footage of the shooting within 14 days of the shooting.

"Once the criminal investigation is complete, that case is sent over to the Maricopa County attorneys for a review. And then they make the determination whether there is any type of criminal aspect to it or if it is a justified shooting," Krynsky said.

The involved officers were taken off enforcement positions as part of the protocol in any police shooting, according to Krynsky. He also said there is a civilian oversight board that looks into cases with use of force.

Even if Phoenix police is early in the investigation, Smith said they want to know the name of the officers who shot Osman, and that they want them to be put on administrative leave or suspension. They also want to look at the body camera footage.

Reaction to the shooting

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, released a statement regarding Osman's shooting and their director met with Osman's family.

“Because of the circumstances of this disturbing incident, we call on city officials to conduct an independent and transparent investigation in order to determine whether the actions of the officers were within policy guidelines and the boundaries of the law,” said CAIR Arizona Executive Director Azza Abuseif.

The organization We Are All America, which seeks to help refugees, also issued a statement on the shooting.

"It is disturbing to see a complete failure in the way that officers responded to a community member having a mental health crisis. We Are All America strongly condemns this act of violence and demands justice and full transparency in this investigation," the statement says.

Reach breaking news reporter Angela Cordoba Perez at Angela.CordobaPerez@Gannett.com or on Twitter @AngelaCordobaP.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Family, friends of man fatally shot by Phoenix officers seek answers