Muslim Group To DOJ: Investigate Alaska Police-Shooting of Somali Muslim

2019 police shooting of a mentally ill Somali-American man in Alaska
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Photo: Video Screenshot

(WASHINGTON D.C., 2/11/22) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the Department of Justice to launch an “independent and transparent” investigation into the 2019 police shooting of a mentally ill Somali-American man in Alaska.

Newly-released police video footage shows the deadly shooting of Bishar Hassan, 31, on April 1, 2019. After being approached by police officers while walking down a street, he reached into his waistband to retrieve what law enforcement described as a “replica BB or pellet gun.”

Three Anchorage police opened fire, shooting him multiple times. Two minutes passed before Hassan received medical aid. He ultimately died.

An attorney representing Hassan’s family in a civil lawsuit said Hassan should have never been stopped by police in the first place and that he had difficulty communicating because English was his second language. Family members say Hassan had mental health issues.

“We call on the Justice Department to launch an independent and transparent investigation to determine whether any aspect of this shooting–from the decision to stop Mr. Hassan to the deadly shooting to the delay in rendering medical aid–violated any civil rights laws,” said CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell.

“Across our nation, cities and states must identify alternative policies, training and procedures to prevent to these shootings,” said CAIR-Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, who is also a leader in the Somali-American community. “If an independent federal investigation reveals that the stop, the shooting or the treatment of Mr. Hassan afterward was unjustified, those responsible must be held accountable by the Justice Department.”

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