BANJUL – Gambia’s government called on Tuesday for a credible and transparent investigation into the shooting death of one of its citizens by U.S. police in the state of Georgia last Friday.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a statement on Friday that it had been asked by the police department in the town of Snellville to investigate an officer involved in the shooting of a driver following a car chase.
The GBI identified the driver on Tuesday as Momodou Lamin Sisay, who lived in the nearby town of Lithonia. Sisay, 39, is the son of Lare Sisay, a Gambian diplomat who also worked for the U.N. Development Programme.
The GBI statement on Friday said preliminary information indicated police officers pursued Sisay after he failed to stop when they tried to pull him over for a vehicle tag violation.
The statement said that when the car eventually stopped and officers approached it, Sisay pointed a handgun at the officers, who fired on the vehicle and retreated to find cover behind their vehicles.
During an ensuing standoff with a SWAT team, the statement said, Sisay fired his weapon at the officers, one of whom returned fire. Sisay was pronounced dead at the scene, it said.
Gambia’s foreign affairs ministry, in a statement Tuesday, said it had “asked the Gambian Embassy in Washington D.C. to engage the relevant U.S. authorities including the State Department, to seek a transparent, credible and objective investigation in the matter”.
Gambian media quoted Sisay’s father as saying he was withholding judgment on the incident pending results of an autopsy and findings from a private investigator, while referring to his son as “somebody who abhors violence”.
African leaders have condemned police violence in the United States over the past week following the death on May 25 of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Father of the 39-year-old told The Fatu Network while his family is not accepting or disputing the narrative police in Georgia are pushing, they intend to do their own investigation into the circumstances surrounding Momodou’s death.
“The narrative that is being given by the police is that it was a routine traffic stop. Now, from a routine traffic stop you now get to a point they’re claiming he was armed, he brandished a weapon and based on that they called several other SWAT cars,” Lare Sisay, a UN diplomat told The Fatu Network.
He added: “They literally walked towards the car and since this officer reported that he brandished a weapon, they made no attempts to frisk him, to ask him to come out of the vehicle or to say drop your weapon. They just shot. Multiple shots were fired and he died on the spot.
“We’re not saying we accept or dispute the narrative but we want to wait until the autopsy report is out and we do our own investigation. We will do an independent autopsy and we want to get a private investigator to investigate the circumstances of his death and if necessary hire a lawyer to sue the Georgia state police. We’re not going to let it go.
“[I spoke with him] just a few days ago. He’s a very pious somebody, goes to the mosque and prays and even when he was in school, he wasn’t into any sort of trouble that I am aware of. So to say that he has a gun… This is sombody who abhors violence, he does not like violence of any kind.”
Momodou’s slaying comes as US descends into chaos following the fatal arrest of black man George Floyd, which has thrust back to the fore a fresh conversation on how blacks are treated in the country.