Statement on the Montgomery County NAACP on the Shooting of Finan Berhe

The Montgomery County Branch of the NAACP is deeply saddened  by the May 7, 2020 police-involved shooting of Mr. Finan Berhe.

We commend the Montgomery County Police Department for the immediate release of the body camera footage of this tragic incident.

The body camera video of the incident depicts Officer Cohen discharging his weapon within seconds of arriving on the scene.  Although the officer issued several warnings to Mr. Berhe, the video clearly shows that Mr. Berhe is in an agitated state and possibly suffering from a mental health crisis. Instead of employing de-escalation techniques, Officer Cohen continued to loudly yell commands to drop a knife.

In the failure of the officer to employ de-escalation techniques, this incident is reminiscent of the 2018 shooting death of Robert White.  

It is disheartening that after two years, many discussions, and county legislation geared toward improving community-police interactions, we are must once again witness a police-involved killing of a Black male.

The Montgomery County NAACP calls upon the Montgomery County Police, the County Executive and the County Council to 1) immediately increase de-escalation training; 2) release the recording of the 911 call that lead to this incident; 3) issue all reports required by the LETT Act, and 4) appoint civilians to the Policing Advisory Commission.

While no action can bring back Mr. Berhe, the political leadership of this county must act to prevent future tragic incidents.