Investigators identify man killed by Memphis police in Whitehaven

TBI reviewing body cam video of deadly officer-involved shooting

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has released the name of a man killed Wednesday night as Memphis officers responded to a domestic disturbance.

Abdoulaye Thiam, 20, died at the scene near Timothy and Hermitage Drive.

Abdoulaye Thiam, 20, was killed Jan. 2, 2019 in an officer-involved shooting in Whitehaven. (Source: SCSO)
Abdoulaye Thiam, 20, was killed Jan. 2, 2019 in an officer-involved shooting in Whitehaven. (Source: SCSO)

According to investigators, police were called to the scene just after 8 p.m. When officers arrived, a man confronted them with a knife. Shots were fired and Thiam was killed.

No officers were injured during the incident.

Thiam’s father says his son was a hard worker and always did what he was told. The family isn’t sure what led to the shooting. They say Thiam was outside at the time and his brother was inside the house.

The Thiam family moved from West Africa in 2008 and have lived in the home for seven years. Thaim played soccer at Sheffield High School.

Family and close friends say they’re heartbroken to hear 20-year-old Abdoulaye Thiam was killed.

His father spoke to WMC5 with the help of family friend Oumar Diong.

“If you lost your son you’re going to feel bad, but we’re going to turn to God,” Diong said.

A law enforcement source said Thiam was taken in custody in March 2017 and released without charges almost two months later.

That source also confirms Memphis police had previously responded to the home on Timothy Drive for a domestic call.

Thiam’s family said the 20-year-old had received a mental health evaluation last year and was given medication.

Wednesday night, police were called to the home for a domestic disturbance just after 8 p.m.

“Nobody was in the house, but him and his brother,” Diong said. “His brother was inside the house so when he looked out the window he see a lot of police over here.”

Investigators say Thiam ran toward officers with a knife, and that’s when MPD officers shot him.

Investigators identify 20-year-old killed in Memphis officer-involved shooting

“He said, ‘if he does have a knife they aren’t supposed to kill him like this. They have something they can spray on the person. They could have shot him in the leg, stuff like that,’” Diong said.

As Thiam’s family tries to make sense of what happened, they’re remembering the Sheffield High School graduate who liked to play soccer.

“He loved to be around him,” Diong said. “He loved him so much. Whatever he asked him to do, he’d do it. He is a good son.”

This is the latest case under investigation by the TBI.

Data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows from 2013 to October of 2018 there were 70 officer involved shootings in Shelby County.

Of those 70, 15 were investigated by the TBI, and the other 55 were investigated by local law enforcement agencies.

The TBI is still working a number of open investigations.

In December 2018, two Memphis police officers responded to James Road, just west of Austin Peay Highway for a man in the street with a gun. Officers arrived, and the situation escalated and one of the officers shot and killed 42-year-old Andre Horton. Family said Horton had a history of mental illness. The TBI later determined the gun was a BB gun.

In October, Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies and Memphis police officers were executing a search warrant for 19-year-old Keyshon Parham. Parham had several active felony warrants, including for a shooting on I-40 the previous week. Investigators say Parham ran, they chased after him then an altercation happened. Two deputies shot their guns.

The TBI also got involved after Memphis Police shot 25-year-old Martavious Banks in September. Banks survived that shooting. It was discovered three officers turned off their cameras at some point before the shooting.

District Attorney General Amy Weirich requested TBI take over the investigation. Three Memphis police officers were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Their names have not been released.

The Memphis Police Department has handed over body camera footage from all three officers.

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