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Family of Arizona man killed by police after he threw rocks at their patrol cars plans to sue for $85 million

Ali Osman, 34, was killed Sept. 24 after he threw rocks at their cars, Phoenix police said.

The family of an Arizona man fatally shot by Phoenix police after he threw rocks at their patrol vehicles has filed a notice of claim seeking $85 million.

Quacy Smith, an attorney for Ali Osman's family, filed the claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — on Friday naming the city, its police department, Chief Michael Sullivan and two officers as defendants.

"The Claimants seek an award of damages reasonably calculated to compensate for the injuries they suffered in connection with the wrongful death of Ali Osman on September 24, 2022," the claim says.

Ali Osman.
Ali Osman.Osman family via KPNX

Osman, 34, died at a hospital after two police officers shot him near an intersection in Phoenix. The police department said the incident stemmed from Osman's hitting police cruisers with rocks. Smith said Osman, who was Somali, was murdered.

"This is not just homicide. This was murder," he said at a news conference this month. "He should be in jail, not in a graveyard."

Police said three officers in two patrol units had just completed an unrelated call and were driving on North 19th Avenue when "they saw a man throwing rocks at their vehicles."

"Both units involved stopped further down the street and spoke with each other about what occurred," Sgt. Brian Bower said in an Oct. 7 video statement.

They requested assistance from a helicopter and from an officer "with less lethal munitions" and then drove back to the intersection where Osman was, Bower said. As the patrol vehicles approached the intersection, Osman continued to throw rocks, Bower said.

Edited body camera video released by the department shows an officer exiting his vehicle and ordering Osman to "drop it."

"Put it down now," the officer yells.

Osman appears to pick up another rock and throw it. Seconds later, the officer fires several shots, and Osman collapsed to the ground.

Another officer in the second patrol unit also fired his weapon at Osman, Bower said. The third officer did not fire.

Rocks that Phoenix police say were thrown by Ali Osman during his encounter with police.
Rocks that Phoenix police say Ali Osman threw during his encounter with police.Phoenix Police Dept.

Bower said that one of the rocks hit one of the officers in the shin and that both patrol vehicles were damaged, one of them with a broken spotlight. Rocks collected from the scene weighed 2.9 ounces to 19.8 ounces, police said.

The notice of claim says that Osman was "neither a threat of death nor of great bodily harm to the officers" and that he was not "engaging in conduct that justified the extent of force used by the officers." Osman's family has said he had dealt with mental health challenges.

The shooting remains under criminal and internal investigations. The police department and the city declined to comment. A police union representative did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.