A GoFundMe fundraising campaign has been launched to help cover legal fees and medical costs for a Nigerian man, Dauda Handan, who was shot and seriously injured in late May by the police in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Handan was shot on May 22, 2019, by two police officers dispatched to his apartment in Chicopee after a co-worker of the victim made an emergency call to the police fearing that the Nigerian was suicidal.
Nigerian novelist and writer Okey Ndibe, who is organizing the GoFundMe campaign, disclosed that Mr. Handan opened the door to his apartment to the police.
The officers then fired twice at him with a stun gun and then followed it up with two gunshots. The gunshots caused serious injuries to Mr. Handan’s right arm and stomach, according to Mr. Ndibe, a friend of the victim.
The police alleged that they fired at Mr. Handan after he moved toward them with a kitchen knife. Mr. Handan, who was hit inside his apartment after he opened the door to the officers, rejects the claim, insisting that he never approached the officers before they shot him from the door of his apartment.
Ndibe, who has known Handan since 1991, said he was disturbed that the police opened fire on a mentally distressed man whose life they were called to save. “Dauda’s co-worker alerted the police that he was concerned that Dauda could be contemplating suicide. In such a situation, you’d think the police would act with great tact to save a life. Instead, they Tasered Dauda and then quickly fired gunshots,” said the novelist.
Ndibe added that he and others who have known Mr. Handan for years were dismayed that prosecutors in the state of Massachusetts subsequently arraigned the Nigerian on two assault charges.
“I have great respect for police officers and other law enforcement agents,” said Mr. Ndibe, adding, “but there’s no question that police officers sometimes act rashly and deploy violence when it’s hardly warranted.
The shooting of Dauda strikes me as an occasion when the police needlessly used firepower when a levelheaded approach was called for. How do you respond to a call that a distressed man could harm himself, and you end up shooting and nearly killing the man?” the novelist wondered. He added: “I’m utterly shocked that prosecutors decided to charge Dauda with assault. I’d suggest that this is a case of prosecutorial imprudence.”
Ndibe disclosed that he and Stephen Clingman, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, visited Mr. Handan at Baystate Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts where the victim underwent surgeries and weeks of treatment for his injuries. He said he and Mr. Clingman, who taught Dauda and the novelist at UMass, “were shaken by the extent of Dauda’s injuries.”
Handan was recently discharged from the hospital, but he remains too physically impaired to resume work.
“Dauda won’t be in shape to return to work for a long time. That’s why I decided to launch a GoFundMe fundraiser on his behalf. He currently has no source of income, yet he needs to retain a lawyer to defend him on the alleged assault charges. In addition, he continues to require medical treatment he has to pay for himself. I’m appealing to women and men of goodwill around the world to give what they can to assist Dauda in hiring a lawyer and paying for ongoing medical treatment.”
According to Mr. Ndibe, Dauda Handan has no relatives in the US and had been providing for his widowed mother and other impoverished relatives in Nigeria. “My hope is that we can reach people with this appeal to help Dauda out,” said Ndibe.
Those who wish to contribute to the cause of Mr. Handan’s legal defense and medical treatment can make a donation via this GoFundMe link: https://bit.ly/2JSnpjP