SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Attorneys for Abdi Mohamad want the 17-year old to remain in the juvenile system.
In a hearing before a juvenile judge a social expert for the defense claimed Mohamad’s life is worth saving.
Salt Lake City police shot Abdi more than a year ago at Salt Lake’s homeless shelter.
The district attorney ruled the shooting was justified because they determined Abdi was about to beat another man with a broom handle and refused to obey police commands.
The 17-year old is now confined to a wheelchair and is facing aggravated robbery and drug charges in juvenile court.
Juvenile prosecutors claimed Abdi is a high risk offender and want him tried as an adult.
But the defense’s expert said that’s just not true.
“What we know is that sometimes people come in and charges appear to be very egregious,” said Robert Butters, a University of Utah sociology professor and the director of the Utah Criminal Justice Center. “But when you look at the literature and do a risk assessment, what we find is they’re very low risk to recidivate.”
He also said there is numerous research that showed juveniles placed in prison turn out to be hardened criminals. But he also said there is little research that showed what happens to a minor who remained in the juvenile system.
“What we know is when you put lower risk, younger and lower sophisticated offender with higher risk, more sophisticated offender, it almost always makes them worse,” said Butters.
In court, the judge learned Abdi is a first generation immigrant with little family support and mental health issues.
The judge also learned Abdi has new alcohol charges since the shooting.
Butters said with more intense treatment and monitoring his family situation he can become productive. He said treatment within the juvenile system is much better than in the adult system.
“The time is now, not two years from now,” said Butters.
The prosecution will also get an opportunity to present evidence during the three day hearing.
They will offer his criminal history that includes numerous assaults and any new charges.