The family of a Harlem man shot and killed by police last year is suing the city, the officers involved and also demanding changes in the way police respond to cases involving the emotionally disturbed. NY1's Kristen Shaughnessy filed the following report.
It's been a year since Mohammed Bah was shot and killed by police inside his Harlem apartment and the family of the 28-year-old man says they still don't know how many officers were involved or who they are.
"No one knows, we have no idea, that is why the police officers are named as John Does and we need their names because we get them we are going to sue them for what they did here," said Randolph McLaughlin, the family's attorney.
There are conflicting accounts about what happened back on September 25, 2012. Bah's mother was in town to visit her son and says she became concerned about his health and called for an ambulance.
"I believe he was depressed. I call 911 because I was thinking of his medical health," said Hawa Bah, the Mohammed's mother.
The NYPD says when officers arrived Bah came at them with a foot long knife, slashed the vest of one officer, and refused to drop the knife. Bah's sister, Oumou Bah, says her mother asked repeatedly to speak to her son but officers refused.
"The cops should have respected his request to leave him alone or at least allow my mom to speak to him," she said.
The NYPD says officers used tasers, a rubber bullet, and when those did not stop Bah they used real bullets, hitting him a number of times.
"It was brutal, the way he was killed, it was excessive and unnecessary," Oumou Bah said.
"No mother should have to ask herself before calling for help for a child they believe is suffering from mental illness by making this call will I be responsible for my child's death," said Deborah Cohen, the family's attorney.
The family wants the NYPD to implement what is known as the Memphis Model when dealing with the mentally ill.
"This is a model that has been in place for over a decade and used in 40 states. It's called a crisis intervention model where mental health advocates professionally train police and accompany them on these calls," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin says he expects the case to be brought before a grand jury next month.