The family of a young man who was shot and paralyzed last summer said they are unhappy with the plea deal the man charged in the shooting received and that it didn't come close to what they believe he deserves.
“Aug. 7th, 2019, was the day that changed my family’s lives forever,” Leyla Shire wrote in a letter on behalf of her family.
Her older brother was shot multiple times around 9:40 p.m. that day at the Meadow Park Apartments. Rochester police would find the then-24-year-old man unresponsive in a third-floor hallway and covered in blood. He suffered three gunshot wounds to his upper chest, one to the back of his head, and one to his left shin, below the knee.
Iman Abucar-Hagi Iman, 27, and Abdirahman Abdullahi, 28, were charged in the incident. On Tuesday afternoon, Iman pleaded guilty in Olmsted County District Court to a charge of first-degree assault causing great bodily harm for the Aug. 7, 2019, incident. A trial date has not been scheduled for Abdullahi, who has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges. A joint sentencing recommendation was not presented by prosecutors and Iman's defense attorney as part of the plea deal, but sentencing guidelines coupled with Iman's criminal history set a range of a 104- to 146-month prison sentence.
Shire wrote that the prosecutor assured the family that he would convict Iman and Abdullahi to the fullest extent of the law. The prosecutor “stated that he wouldn’t offer a plea deal since the crime was done without showing any mercy to the victim.”
“The damage Mr. Iman has caused to my brother and family is permanent,” Shire wrote.
Shire's brother, now 25, is paralyzed from the neck down and lost his right eye as a result of the incident. He has been receiving full-time medical care since the shooting.
“He is a son, a brother, a community member and law abiding citizen that was raised in Rochester for over 20 years. His life changed and justice is not being served while those that commit the crimes get a slap on the wrist for doing damage in the community,” she wrote.
In addition to the physical scars, Shire said the psychological harm is something her brother has to live with, especially knowing that the man who “attempted to murder him would easily be out within a few years.”
“There isn't a sentence that could ever make up for the damage that was done, but 12 years doesn't even come close. Mr. Iman robbed my brother of his health and his dreams,” Shire wrote. “How does a man that is considered to be a threat to public safety, with his name all over news outlets and newspapers for the community to be aware of, get such a plea deal?”
Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem wrote in an email that it is impossible in cases with very significant injuries to find the right balance. He wrote that he spoke with the victim's family and understands the significant challenges the 25-year-old will face for the rest of his life.
"There is no measure of penalty available that can properly appease such an injury," Ostrem wrote.
The family also questioned whether the case would have been treated differently were the victim and the perpetrator not Black Somali men.
“If the victim was a different race, would it have been a different outcome,” the family wrote. “Olmsted County has failed to get justice for my brother. This is another prime example of how black victims get treated in the justice system. The city of Rochester justice system has failed my brother and the city as a whole.”
The family started a petition on Change.org urging the Olmsted County District Court judge to not accept the plea. In less than 24 hours, nearly 300 people have already signed it.