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Local Somalis continue protest one year after shooting death

Members of Columbus' Somali community today are commemorating the one-year anniversary of a controversial shooting. 23-year-old Nasir Abdi was shot and killed by a Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy last year while officers where trying to take him for treatment. Deputies say he was armed. But some witnesses say they did not see a weapon and the shooting was unnecessary.

Protesters stood in front of the Franklin County courthouse holding signs calling for justice and a stop to police discrimination. They say Abdi's death was unnecessary. Officers were called to Abdi's east-side home last year after a mental health care professional signed an affidavit to have him treated for schizophrenia. Officers say when they arrived he was waving a knife and acting aggressively. Court documents say after a brief struggle Deputy Jason Evans fired one round into Abdi's chest.

Several witnesses told police they did not see a knife, and the deputies were too quick to use deadly force. East-side resident Abdi Rahim Sheikh was among the protesters.

"The community is very upset on how the events developed, and the police officers were not accountable," Sheikh says. "Those same police officers that were supposed to take people to hospitals, not kill them."

Sheriff Jim Karnes insists Abdi did have a knife, and he lunged at the officer who shot him. Karnes declined to comment further. Prosecutors have not filed charges against any of the officers. Members of the Abdi family have filed a lawsuit against Karnes. They claim the Sheriff violated Abdi's civil rights by not providing his deputies with adequatetraining for dealing with the mentally ill. Attorney Fred Gittes represents the Abdi family.

"He was going to be taken in for health treatment, and within 60 seconds he was dead," Gittes says. "Even though there was no one near him, it wasn't a hostage situation. He was standing by himself on the sidewalk."

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien is defending the county in the suit. He says he can not say much about the case, but he did give the county's official response.

"The allegations that the incident itself was a violation of Abdi's civil rights would have been denied, and the allegation that the deputies used improper or excessive force would have been denied."

The first conference in the lawsuit is scheduled for early next year. Both sides estimate the case will last about a year. Steve Brown, WOSU News