Blue Line

No charges for police officer who fatally shot Sudanese immigrant in Newfoundland

December 13, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Dec. 13, 2023, St. John’s, Nfld. – A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer was exonerated Wednesday in a report by the province’s police watchdog agency, which concludes his use of lethal force in the shooting of a Sudanese immigrant was “necessary and justified.”

The decision from the Serious Incident Response Team, known as SIRT-NL, said the agency investigated the shooting as a homicide, as is standard, and found no grounds to lay charges. The officer was protecting himself, his colleague and the employees at the St. John’s employment centre where the shooting happened, SIRT-NL director Mike King wrote in the report.

“SIRT-NL recognizes the tragic nature of these cases,” King said.

The agency has not named the man, but members of the Sudanese community in St. John’s have identified him as Omar Mohammed, a former child soldier from Sudan who they say needed help but didn’t receive it.


Mohammed was shot on June 12, within five minutes of police arriving at the employment centre in a busy part of the city, according to King’s report. He’d been there a few times trying to get income support, but he was wanted by police on an outstanding warrant. Staff members had been warned to phone police if he showed up again.

When he arrived that day, he was let into the centre’s waiting room before staff recognized him and phoned police, according to witness statements in the report. Employees were ushered into another area, where the report says they waited for about an hour for police to arrive while the building was on lockdown.

Two officers – one a cadet on her very first shift – arrived at 10:48 a.m. When they entered the area where Mohammed was waiting, he pulled out a hammer and threw it at the male officer, witnesses said. The male officer used his Taser, but it didn’t connect. Mohammed kept approaching the officer while reaching for something at his side, according to witness testimony in the report, and the officer shot him in his side.

Mohammed dropped to his knees with a knife in his hand, the report says, before slumping over. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

King’s report says SIRT-NL contracted an independent, out-of-province expert in use of force, who concluded that Mohammed posed a serious threat and the officer’s response “was measured and appropriate.”

The report details testimony from witnesses, including employees at the centre and a friend of Mohammed’s. The friend said Mohammed was from Darfur, and that he’d been evicted from his last apartment. The friend said he’d invited Mohammed to stay with him, and that they’d been friends since 2014, when Mohammed arrived in Canada.

Mohammed had a history of interactions with police dating back to 2015, the report said. He’s been accused of punching a police officer and biting a correctional officer at a St. John’s jail and a staff member at a psychiatric hospital. He was convicted for several crimes, including possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and sexual assault.

Mohammed’s friend, Choul William, told The Canadian Press in June that he had serious mental health issues stemming from extreme trauma. He said Mohammed came to Canada hoping for a better life.

“He thought he was going to get good treatment and everything in his life is going to be changed,” William said.

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