MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Family members of the 20-year-old shot and killed by Memphis Police want answers.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is now handling the case of Abdoulaye Thiam. Police say he ran at officers with a knife and was killed in front of his Whitehaven home off Timothy Drive.
However family and friends stopping by the family’s house Thursday were surprised, saying they did not know him to be violent but records do indicate police have been called to the home in the past disturbance and mental health calls.
“He was a good son, a good son,” Thiam’s father said through translator Oumar Diong, a family friend. “His father said he loved to be around him. He liked him so much, whatever he asked him to do. He would do it.”
The family is from West Africa. They say Thiam came to the United States in 2008 and lived for seven years at the Whitehaven home where he was killed. They said he graduated from Sheffield High, where he played soccer.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says Memphis Police showed up to the home around 8 Wednesday night after getting a call about a domestic disturbance.
When officers arrived they say Thiam ran at them, armed with a knife. Three officers shot at him.
Diong said the only people home at the time were Thiam and his brother, but he says the brother was inside the house when officers showed up.
“His brother was inside the house, so all he know is that when he look out the window, he see a lot of police over here,” Diong said.
The family said they don’t know for sure whether Thiam had a knife as indicated by law enforcement.
“But he did say, if he do have knife, they aren’t supposed to kill him,” Diong said, translating for the father. “They got something they can spray on the person.”
The family says while they don’t have all the details about what happened they believed other measures could’ve been taken instead of shooting the 20-year-old.
“He said he feels bad for them to do that, they aren’t supposed to kill his son,” the father said.
Memphis Police said officers were called to this address three times recently—all in 2017. One was an armed party call, leading to an arrest. The other two were “mental consumer” calls. He also has a previous mugshot with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
The officers are now on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
TBI says there is body camera footage and agents are reviewing it.