The mother of a mentally ill man shot dead in his home says the NYPD should no longer act as first responders to 911 calls like the one she made trying to get him help seven years ago.
Mohamed Bah’s mother and about 50 others gathered outside his Harlem apartment Wednesday on the seventh anniversary of his death, and called for the NYPD to stop acting as first responders to the mentally ill.
“I will never forget that day,“ said Hawa Bah. “I am heart broken.”
She called 911 because she thought paramedics would get her 28-year-old son to a hospital. Cops responded instead and shot him to death, alleging that Bah lunged at them with a knife. The Bah family’s lawyers alleged that cops intentionally moved that knife into a flood-prone NYPD warehouse just days before Hurricane Sandy. It and other items were lost in the storm.
“Mohammed was sick. I called 911 and asked for an ambulance,“ Hawa Bah said. “They came in with shields and hammers and heavy equipment ... They broke the door down and shot my son eight times.”
The city agreed in March to pay Bah’s mother $1.9 million, after appealing a 2017 wrongful death jury verdict that awarded her $2.2 million.
“Th NYPD should not be first responders to the mentally ill,” Bah said through tears. “They come not to help but to kill.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who attended Wednesday’s vigil, said the city should come up with an alternative to 911 for people seeking help for a mentally ill loved one.
"We have to have a non-police response,“ he said. “Even the best police officers are not trained to do this.“