MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge upheld a $2.2 million jury verdict Tuesday for the family of Mohamed Bah, a Guinean immigrant killed by police in 2012.
Though the city can still appeal, Newman Ferrara attorney Randolph McLaughlin, who represents the Bahs, said his clients need peace.
“They only hope that at long last the city of New York, the mayor and the NYPD will take responsibility for what happened here and dissolve this case, pay the damages and end this nightmare for this family,” said McLaughlin.
New York City police officers arrived at Bah’s door in response to a 911 call from his mother, Hawa Bah, who expressed concern about her son’s clinical depression.
Police claim that they arrived at the Bronx apartment to find 28-year-old Bah naked and wildly lunging at them with a knife.
After half a decade of legal sparring culminating in a two-week trial, a federal jury took mere hours to rule for Bah’s family.
While finding the city liable to the tune of $2.215 million, the jurors also determined that Bah had been carrying a weapon at the time of his death — a point disputed by the family.
But U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel noted that the jury also found this threat had disappeared by the time Detective Edwin Mateo fired the first shots. Two other officers discharged firearms at Bah who was shot a total of eight times.
“On this record, a reasonable jury could find in plaintiff’s favor on the excessive force claim against Mateo,” Castel said. “The jury’s verdict was not against the greater weight of the credible evidence and there was no miscarriage of justice.”
Castel overturned the jury’s finding of liability against Lieutenant Michael Licitra for failure to supervise.
New York City Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci did not put an appeal off the table. “We are reviewing the decision to determine what further action we take,” he said in a statement.
With the bulk of the verdict upheld, McLaughlin, the family’s attorney, said: “We’re pleased with the judge’s decision with respect to the shooter.”
Since her son’s death, Hawa Bah has emerged as a vocal activist against excessive force by police. She often appears at press conferences alongside another bereaved Guinean immigrant, Kadiatou Diallo, whose son Amadou Diallo was fatally shot 41 times by NYPD officers in 1999.
Bah’s case rose to national attention more than a year after his death amid the rise of the then-nascent Black Lives Matter movement in 2013.