The family and friends of 34-year-old Ali Osman, a man who was shot and killed by Phoenix police on Saturday after he threw rocks at them, gathered at their attorney's law office in midtown Phoenix where they once again condemned the shooting as excessive use of force.
Quacy Smith, an attorney representing Osman's family, said the Maricopa County Medical Examiner released Osman's body to the family on Wednesday evening and they had a separate, private autopsy conducted Thursday morning.
Smith said preliminary information indicated Osman had been shot at least three times in the neck, though it was possible a fourth bullet struck Osman in the same place. Smith also held up plastic bags of rocks a little bit larger than gravel, and said they were some of the projectiles Osman had thrown at officers and their cars before they shot and killed him.
"We all have concerns," Smith said. "We don't want police officers having rocks thrown at them - and I think the family agrees with that as well. But, larger than that, we don't want people being killed for doing so."
Smith said Osman's remains will be moved to the Islamic Community Center of Tempe for a memorial service on Friday before being buried at Al Rahma Muslim Cemetery near Maricopa. The memorial begins at 11 a.m. and the public is invited to attend, Smith added.
An exchange of rocks and bullets
Officers who were patrolling the area near 19th and Glendale avenues said they saw a man, later identified as Osman, throwing rocks at one of the patrol cars, according to Sgt. Brian Bower, a spokesperson with Phoenix police.
Police tried to contact Osman and told him to stop, but he continued throwing rocks at them, according to Bower. Then officers shot Osman. He was taken to a hospital where he died, Bower said.
Smith, who said he's a former police officer himself, lambasted the Phoenix Police Department for failing to show any body-camera footage to the family days after the shooting occurred or identifying the officers who killed Osman.
"I think it's an embarrassment to the department," Smith said. "I think it's an embarrassment to the city that no one from the leadership of the police department or from the city itself for that matter has reached out to our office - has reached out to this family - to offer condolences, to coordinate between our office and their offices regarding the release of information or evidence."
He added that taking 14 days to release a critical incident briefing video with edited snippets of body-camera footage was unacceptable.
Smith said he and the family didn't condone Osman's actions, but argued he didn't deserve to die for throwing rocks at officers.
"I'd rather Ali be sitting in jail than at that mortuary right now. He has mental health issues. Mental health concerns cannot constitute a death warrant in this country. We have to do better," Smith said.
Family, friends: Osman didn't deserve to die
Loay Alyousfi, a close friend of Osman, said he struggled to process the shooting that killed his friend and noted that throwing rocks at police was out of character for Osman but echoed Smith's comments that shooting him in response was over the line.
"What kind of message are we going to send to everybody if it's OK to shoot over throwing rocks at them," Alyousfi said. "Police are trained to do better - to know better. I just think that wasn't done here. Something needs to be done."
Alyousfi said he befriended Osman shortly after Osman arrived to the United States as a Somali refugee when he was 14 years old, before becoming a U.S. citizen. Alyousfi said Osman was like a brother and supported him through difficult times in his life such as his father's death.
He described Osman as a sociable and hard-working person who helped manage a shoe store at 16 and later owned his own medical transport company.
Ikran Aden, Osman's niece, fought through tears as she pleaded for the officers involved to be held accountable.
"Every day we grieve," Aden said. "We don't sleep. We see him in our face. How can we get through that?"
According to Smith, Osman was supposed to board a plane to Kenya Tuesday evening to visit his mother whom he hadn't seen in 17 years. Now, Osman's mother won't get to say hello to her son in Kenya nor goodbye to him in Tempe. She'll have to say goodbye to an autopsy photo of her son instead.
"Instead of his body flying to Kenya, his body was driven to a mortuary," Smith said.
Smith said he hadn't yet filed a notice of claim, a mandatory precursor to a lawsuit against a municipality, against the Phoenix Police Department or the city, out of respect for the family, but planned to file a claim immediately afterward.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Memorial service planned for man shot, killed by Phoenix police