Federal prosecutors said on Tuesday that they would not pursue criminal charges against the New York City police officers involved in the 2012 shooting death of a 28-year-old taxi driver, Mohamed Bah.
Mr. Bah was killed in a hail of bullets fired by officers from the Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit, who opened fire on him in his Harlem apartment after less lethal options for subduing him failed.
The decision to close the federal inquiry was announced by Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. In a statement, Mr. Kim said prosecutors could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt “that any officer willfully violated Mr. Bah’s constitutional rights.”
“Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence, nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation,” the statement said. Prosecutors reviewed physical evidence and grand jury testimony, among other things. Mr. Kim’s office also did a ballistics analysis, but there was no video evidence from the scene.
Mr. Kim said that before announcing his decision, he met with Mr. Bah’s family to express sympathy “for their tragic loss.”
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Members of the Emergency Service Unit, which responds to most calls involving people in severe emotional distress, came to Mr. Bah’s door after his delusional behavior led his relatives to call 911. The officers fired Tasers and a rubber bullet at Mr. Bah, who, armed with a knife, continued to advance and stabbed two of the officers in their vests.
One officer yelled, “He’s stabbing me; shoot him,” the police said, and three officers fired a total of 10 bullets, striking Mr. Bah in the arm, chest and abdomen as well as the left side of the head. He was pronounced dead later that day, Sept. 25, at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.
The news, nearly five year after her son’s death, left Mr. Bah’s mother, Hawa Bah, “heart broken for this country,” but determined to honor her son’s legacy by continuing to press for “justice and police accountability,” she said in a statement.
“He was sick and I knew he needed help,” Ms. Bah said in her statement, issued by the Justice Committee, a New York City nonprofit group that works with relatives of those killed in encounters with the police. “I called 911 to get an ambulance to take him to the hospital. The police came instead. Instead of helping him, they treated him like a criminal.”
In November 2013, a Manhattan grand jury declined to indict any officers involved in the fatal shooting of Mr. Bah, finding that the officers acted lawfully in using deadly force, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said at the time. Any disciplinary action now lies with the Police Department, which can pursue an administrative review of the case and the officers involved.