A civil rights group has pledged an investigation into a mentally ill north Fulton woman's death at the hands of local police.
Shukri Ali Said, 36, was reportedly refusing to drop a knife when two Johns Creek police officers opened fire during a Saturday morning encounter near Abbots Bridge and Sweet Creek roads. Said died from her injuries.
The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced Sunday that it and attorneys from Atlanta's Awad Law Firm had agreed to represent Said's family and conduct a civil rights investigation in connection with the shooting.
“Shukri Said was and is loved by her family members, who called 911 out of love for her, not fear of here,” CAIR-Georgia director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a news release. “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 said Said had suffered from bipolar disorder and “other mental illness” for eight years. The group said Said’s sister called 911 Saturday morning to “seek mental health assistance” and that the family expected Said to be taken to the hospital.
Instead, Johns Creek police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said, police officers encountered a knife-wielding Said near Northview High School. They made “several attempts ... to de-escalate the encounter through the use of less lethal force,” including a Taser and a “foam impact round,” Johns Creek Capt. Chris Byers said.
Authorities said Said still refused to drop her knife, and two officers — who have been placed on administrative leave — opened fire.
Said died at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.
CAIR vowed to help Said’s family find out what happened but also urged the public not to “jump to any conclusions” until all the facts are known. The group also called for every Georgia law enforcement agency to use body-worn cameras and to “re-evaluate ways to peacefully deescalate conflicts with mentally ill individuals.”
“It is possible that law enforcement failed to properly de-escalate conflict with a woman they knew to be mentally ill,” Mitchell said in a statement issued on behalf of Said’s family. “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.”
The GBI is investigating the shooting. The officers that were involved have not been identified.