The Muslim community in the US state of Georgia is searching for answers after a sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Sudanese-American man earlier this month.
Yassin Mohamed, 47, was killed on May 9 by an Evans County sheriff’s deputy near the rural town of Claxton, which sits roughly 200 miles (320km) southeast of Atlanta, the state capital.
According to police reports, Mohamed was throwing rocks at the deputies during the incident that led to his death. He had had several encounters with law enforcement agencies in the 24 hours prior to that incident.
During one of those encounters, Mohamed was taken to hospital, leading the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) to question whether Mohamed was suffering from some kind of mental health issues.
“We’re unclear as to the mental state of Mr Mohamed, and until the culmination of the investigation we won’t know for sure,” said Murtaza Khwaja, the legal and policy director of CAIR-Georgia, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation.
“What we do know is that law enforcement is treating this a mental health crisis,” Khwaja claimed. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) would not comment on the mental health of Mohamed and the Evan’s County Sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
In the May 9 incident, the GBI said in a statement that deputies were called after midnight and found Mohamed walking on the road. An altercation ensued after the deputies attempted to make contact.
Mohamed began throwing rocks at law enforcement, hitting one of the deputies once and “charging” him with a “larger rock”, causing the deputy to fire his weapon, the GBI said.
Mohamed died before being taken to hospital. The deputy was not seriously injured.
Prior to the deadly encounter with the Evans County deputy, Mohamed had “six or seven” interactions with law enforcement and emergency services over the course of the night, according to CAIR.
These included run-ins with the Glennville police department, the Claxton police department, and emergency medical services (EMS). Mohamed was detained by law enforcement and taken to hospital, where he refused treatment, the GBI confirmed to Al Jazeera.
During another instance, Mohamed attacked a police officer and ambulance with a plastic pipe. A video taken by law enforcement and obtained by local news outlet AllOnGeorgia shows the incident.
In the video, Mohamed, who was walking on the road at night, approaches the police car which stopped to approach him, wielding a large, plastic pipe. An officer steps out of his vehicle after warning Mohamed, draws his firearm and appears to drop it, the video shows. Another officer assists in the encounter, and Mohamed is held on the ground. EMS later takes him away.