Yousuf Mollah, mentally ill, killed…

Yousuf Mollah, mentally ill, killed by LAPD

On July 27 in Los Angeles, police responded to a complaint that Yousuf Mollah, a Bangladeshi with a long history of serious mental problems was exposing himself in the street outside his apartment.

Police arrived at his house at 6:30. They said Yousuf came to the door with a large knife and officer Alma Andrade ordered him to drop it. He didn’t and instead lunged at her. She shot him once in the abdomen. That is the police account. Eyewitnesses said he didn’t have a knife.

He crawled back into his apartment. The police waited 3 hours to call a SWAT team. Yousef’s brother was there by 8 pm. They told him nothing about what was happening. One would think the police might ask the brother to help negotiate to get Yousuf out, but no, they never asked. Also, no medical help was ever called.

At 9:30 pm the SWAT team fired tear gas into the apartment, and at 10 pm they stormed in and found Yousuf had bled to death.

Yousuf, as mentioned, had serious mental problems. His family had tried at least 30 times to get him help. Under California law, you can be held for 72 hours to assess your mental health. He had been held many such times, but no facility could ever be found to house him. There’s been so many budget cutbacks that many of these facilities have been forced to close.

A team from the highly regarded LAPD police psychiatric unit had been to his home the Wednesday before the shooting. They said he wasn’t sick enough, thus they could do nothing. At least one hospital turned him down because he didn’t have insurance.

As a personal note, someone close to me, a diagnosed bipolar, stopped taking her meds and ended up mentally unbalanced and homeless. The State of Connecticut put her on a 72 hour hold and found a facility for her. Now, a few years later, she’s healthy, fine, and back on her meds. Had no facility been available, she would still be homeless and not on this planet. We need these facilities.

The South Asian and Bangladeshi community in LA has been outraged by the killing of Yousuf. Why did police not call the paramedics? Why did they wait so long to call the SWAT team? Why didn’t they let Yousuf’s brother try to mediate? Most important, was the use of force justified? They’ve started organizing, and last week South Asians, many of whom have never been to a demonstration, held a rally protesting the shooting.

They want an investigation into the shooting. For several weeks the police refused to meet with South Asian community leaders. Now, after the protest, LAPD has agreed to a meeting, but have said they will not answer any of their questions about the shooting.  I believe this is called “stonewalling”.

There were three other such shootings that week in LA. Kripa Upadhyay, Program Co-ordinator of the Anti-Violence Unit of South Asian Network, called police repeatedly trying to set up the meeting. During one phone call the LAPD spokesperson said, “We have so many cases like this, I don’t know which one you’re referring to.”

There’s something seriously wrong when police have shot so many people they can’t keep track of them…

Kripa also said that — thanks to post 9/11 hysteria — 13,000 immigrants are currently in custody and waiting to be deported back to their homelands. Many of them are “guilty” of technical offenses like not registering a change of address in time – hardly a sign they could be terrorists. And more than a few have fled to Canada to avoid being rounded up in the US and deported.
That’s right, people are now fleeing the U.S. to avoid persecution — unjust heavy-handed persecution that targets them because they are Muslim or because of their country of origin.

And Yousuf Mollah bled to death alone in his apartment.