NYPD Accused of Destroying Evidence After Killing

MANHATTAN (CN) — The family of a Guinean immigrant who was shot to death by police five years ago will try to persuade a federal judge Thursday to punish the New York City Police Department for destroying evidence.
NYPD officers fired 10 bullets at Mohamed Bah inside his Manhattan apartment, eight of which struck and killed him on Sept. 25, 2012.
Police said at the time that Bah lunged at them with a knife and tried to stab an officer, but police failed to preserve the weapon and other key pieces of evidence that they said were lost in Hurricane Sandy.
After filing suit roughly a year later, the Bah family’s attorney Debra Cohen told the Huffington Post in 2015 that the 28-year-old’s death had been an “execution and a cover-up.”
His mother Hawa Bah was to join more than a dozen civil rights activists, interfaith religious leaders and others outside Manhattan Federal Court Thursday morning for a group prayer before heading inside to pack the courtroom.
According to the lawsuit, police arrived at Bah’s home in response to a call from his mother, who was concerned about her son’s mental illness and depression. She said she requested an ambulance, but the NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit busted into the apartment without a warrant despite her protests.
NYPD Officer Andrew Kress tried to subdue the emotionally disturbed Bah by firing a Taser dart, but the stun gun missed and hit Detective Edwin Mateo, who shouted out in confusion: “He’s stabbing me. Shoot him,” the family claims.
With the parties preparing to convene a jury, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel was to hear arguments Thursday morning over whether the NYPD should be sanctioned for losing the knife, Bah’s clothes, two Taser cartridges and other evidence that the family contends will be important to their case.
In a 20-page memo, the Bahs’ attorneys say the NYPD deliberately transferred the evidence to a precarious location in the riverfront Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint a day before Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency.
“The circumstances involving the evidence that was stored at the Kingsland Warehouse, inevitably leads to the conclusion that the evidence was intentionally placed there and not protected from the potential destructive effects of the impending hurricane,” the motion states. “The evidence was originally vouchered in a non-flood area and days before one of the most destructive hurricanes in the history of the Northeast occurs, the evidence was moved to a flood zone area and placed in a warehouse within that zone on the first floor.”
City attorneys called the Bah family’s accusations “hyperbolic” and “baseless.”
“For example, plaintiff alleges that defendants intentionally orchestrated the destruction, by Superstorm Sandy, of numerous items of evidence including the large kitchen knife with which plaintiff’s decedent attacked NYPD officers,” New York City corporation counsel Zachary Carter wrote in a reply brief.
“Plaintiff’s contention that defendants purposely moved the knife and other evidence to an NYPD warehouse in Brooklyn somehow knowing that a devastating hurricane would soon hit New York City, flood that particular warehouse and effectively destroy these items is entirely unfounded and is illustrative of the baselessness of her entire motion,” he added.
Bah’s family wants the judge to strike some of the NYPD’s defenses at trial, allow the jury to draw an adverse inference about the evidence destruction, and order the city to pay attorneys’ fees.

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