MEDIA CONTACT: Eliel Cruz
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
At Close of CCRB Investigation, Mom of Mohamed Bah Blasts NYPD and Mayor for Shielding Officers; Vows To continue Fight to Remove Police From Mental Health Response
THURSDAY,May 12, 2022 –– Almost a decade since Mohamed Bah was shot and killed by the NYPD in his home while he was experiencing a mental health crisis, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) has closed its investigation into Detective Edwin Mateo and the other officers involved in Mohamed’s death. At a meeting today, the CCRB informed Hawa Bah, Mohamed’s mother, that –– while its investigator found Mateo to have used excessive force when he fired the shot that killed Mohamed at close range –– it is unable to bring charges against him because Mateo retired from the NYPD in October 2021 after his article 78 petition to halt the CCRB investigation failed.
In response to CCRB’s investigation results and Mateo’s retirement, the Justice Committee released the following statement from Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah:
“Ten years ago, I made the decision to call 911 for an ambulance after I couldn’t find any adequate mental health care for my son, Mohamed. I could tell that Mohamed was unwell while speaking to him over the phone and flew from Guinea to try to get him medical attention. Finally, I called 911 for an ambulance, but the NYPD arrived first, and instead of giving him the care he needed, they murdered my son.
What I heard in the meeting with the CCRB today confirmed what I, along with many other New Yorkers, already knew. The NYPD used excessive force when they arrived at my son’s apartment, entered illegaly, tased, and then shot him. Dt. Edwin Mateo, Lt. Michael Licitra, and all of the other officers involved should have been fired in 2012 when they killed my son. Instead, for almost ten years, Mayor Bill DeBlasio and multiple NYPD commissioners forced taxpayers to pay these officers’ salaries. Mateo and Licitra were allowed to retire with pensions, and no one is being held responsible for Mohamed’s death. There is no justice.
Today, I learned that the CCRB investigator recommended excessive force charges for Dt. Edwin Mateo for shooting my son at close range while he was already on the ground, but the Board could not vote to charge him because he retired after his cowardly Article 78 petition to stop my CCRB complaint failed. At least my tireless fight for justice means Mateo is no longer a police officer and cannot kill another mother’s child.
I am outraged that Mateo and the other officers have escaped accountability but not surprised. Mayor De Blasio and his police commissioners never helped my family get justice for Mohamed and have stood in the way of accountability at every step possible. I spent 10 years fighting for justice and the truth about what happened to my son to be made public. These officers may have retired, but we all know the truth about what happened to Mohamed. My struggle for justice and change in Mohamed’s name is not over: the NYPD’s murder of my son and the lack of accountability clearly show why the NYPD must be completely removed from mental health response. I will continue to fight until this is achieved.
On September 25, 2012, Mohamed Bah, a Muslim immigrant from Guinea, was killed by the NYPD after his mother, Hawa Bah, called 911 for an ambulance and NYPD officers arrived first. Despite Mrs. Bah pleading with them not to, Emergency Services Unit officers forced their way into her son’s apartment – against NYPD protocol and without a warrant – with guns drawn and shot him eight times, killing him. Evidence shows Officer Edwin Mateo fired the last shot at close range, while Bah lay on the ground. Both the state and federal criminal justice systems failed to hold the officers involved accountable but in 2018, the jury for the civil trial found Dt. Edwin Mateo liable for excessive force and Lt. Michael Licitra liable for failure to supervise. The de Blasio administration appealed the decision, but – thanks to Mrs. Bah’s leadership and citywide organizing – was forced to the table to settle the case.
In February of 2020, Hawa Bah filed a CCRB complaint against all of the officers involved in the murder of her son, the last possible avenue for achieving accountability for her son’s murder.
About Justice Committee: Since the 1980s, the Justice Committee (JC) has been dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in New York City. The heart of our work is organizing and uplifting the leadership of families who have lost loved ones to the police and survivors of police violence. We empower our community to deter police violence, hold law enforcement accountable, and build people-led community safety through grassroots organizing campaigns, community empowerment, political education, our CopWatch program, and by developing safety mechanisms and projects that decrease reliance on police. By building solidarity with other anti-racist, immigrant and people of color-led organizations, the Justice Committee seeks to contribute to a broad-based movement for racial, social, and economic justice.