May 20, 2023 – Katya Schwenk
Ali Osman’s tragic death occurred on September 24, 2022, when the Phoenix police officers shot him during a confrontation. The officers, Jesse Johnson and Brennan Olachea, will not face any criminal charges for their actions, according to Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell’s announcement on Wednesday.
The county prosecutors reviewed the case and found that the officers’ decision to shoot was reasonable based on the force that Mr. Osman used against them. It was not surprising for civil rights attorney Quacy Smith, who is representing Osman’s family in their $85 million civil lawsuit against the city of Phoenix. Despite this, he expressed his frustration with the decision that allowed the officers to walk free.
Olachea, Johnson, and Jared Gibson encountered Osman while driving by in their patrol cars. Osman threw rocks at them, causing minor damage to one patrol vehicle. The officers then returned to confront him and, without using any other resources available to them, immediately shot him multiple times just seconds after arriving.
Osman’s mental health struggles came to light during the trial, which is a grave reminder of the urgent need to re-evaluate how we address mental health issues. While Mitchell offered her condolences to Osman’s family during the press conference, Smith remains skeptical. He believes that the county attorney has hijacked the criminal justice process related to the officers and should let a jury decide whether they were justified in using deadly force.
As Osman’s family files a civil lawsuit, it’s unclear if the officers involved will face any disciplinary action. The police department is still investigating the incident and has assigned the two officers involved in the shooting to non-enforcement positions. The third officer involved remains a patrol officer. Notably, Osman was one of ten people that Phoenix police officers shot and killed in 2022, and in 2023, seven have been killed so far.