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Minneapolis Police Kill Somalian Man

March 11, 2002 GMT

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Several police officers shot and killed a Somali man carrying a machete and critics accused the officers of using excessive force, saying the man was mentally ill.

At least five officers were put on routine administrative leave after the shooting Sunday. Mayor R.T Rybak planned to meet with Somali leaders to discuss the shooting.

Relatives identified the man as 28-year-old Abu Kassim Jeilani, who arrived from Somalia in 1997.

Investigators said it was too early to tell how much of a role language barriers might have played, and that the severity of Jeilani’s mental illness was unclear.

Police had trailed him for several blocks, and officers and people who knew the man tried to persuade him to drop the machete and a crowbar he also was carrying.

One witness, Dendell Holley, said Jeilani was holding the machete down as he walked and was not threatening pedestrians. But Jeilani hit a police car with the machete, Holley said.

Officers jumped out of the car and told Jeilani to put the weapons down. When he didn’t obey, they used stun guns to little effect.

``They were telling him to put it down, put it down,″ Holley said. ``It seemed like they just unloaded their guns on him.″

Jeilani hadn’t seemed to acknowledge anyone around him, said Rahma Ali, who also knew the man and had followed him down the street.

``He just kept saying, `Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,′ over and over again,″ she said, translating that as ``God is great.″

Ali said that when police surrounded the man, he raised the machete and repeated the phrase before police shot him.

After the shooting, a crowd of Somalis shouted complaints at police.

``I can’t believe that they did it. The guy was mentally ill,″ said Amal Yusuf, executive director of the Somalian Women’s Association.

``They could have used Mace,″ said Yusuf, who was driving near the shooting site.

Police Chief Robert Olson said officers appeared to have followed proper procedure. ``Our plans went right down the line _ by the book in fact,″ he said.

``We have a lot of citizens who are very concerned, as right they should be,″ Olson said. ``I would hope they hold back and wait until they find out what the truth is.″

Minneapolis officers have undergone training in dealing with the mentally ill since police shootings of three mentally ill people in 1999 and 2000.