Raleigh man who was shot by police is remembered at vigil for his kindness and generosity

Vigil remembers Raleigh man killed in police shooting

Family, friends and activists mourn Soheil Antonio Mojarrad, 30, who died in a fatal encounter with a Raleigh police officer Saturday night in an officer-involved shooting near New Bern Avenue.
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Family, friends and activists mourn Soheil Antonio Mojarrad, 30, who died in a fatal encounter with a Raleigh police officer Saturday night in an officer-involved shooting near New Bern Avenue.

Friends and family of Soheil Antonio Mojarrad gathered Tuesday night near the spot where he was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer Saturday night.

About 75 people attended the vigil for Mojarrad in the corner of an east Raleigh shopping center near the intersection of New Bern Avenue and Rogers Lane. Tucked away near an opening in the woods beside the shopping center, they placed photos, lit candles and burned incense in memory of their friend.

They remembered him as a giving soul who favored peace over violence. They said his heart was filled with kindness. And they said they did not understand why he was killed.

Mojarrad lived less than 1 mile from the scene.

His parents, Judy and Mehrdad Mojarrad, were greeted and hugged by numerous people. Mehrdad thanked those who came to remember his son.

Mojarrad struggled with mental illness that was compounded by a 2012 accident in Asheville where he suffered a traumatic brain injury, his mother says.

“That really changed him, but he was still so kind and generous,” she said. “There was nothing violent about him. He gave. That’s what I want people to remember.”

Childhood friend Julian Thomas said Mojarrad was always friendly. He was at the vigil and gave Mojarrad’s mother a handful of snapshots pulled from a photo album.

“He was always just the kid who was goofing around and trying to make everyone laugh,” Thomas said. “He just had a good spirit in general, no matter what he did.”

Thomas and Mojarrad grew up in adjacent neighborhoods and went to the same schools, including Enloe High School. They spent a lot of time together, Thomas said.

Other friends talked about how much fun they had hanging out with Mojarrad.

“He made people feel good,” said Tamel Harris.

Harris lives in a neighborhood next to the shopping center and that’s where they would sometimes meet up, he said.

Faisel Khan of the Carolina Peace Center called Mojarrad’s death unacceptable. The Carolina Peace Center promotes lawful non-violent activism and advocacy for marginalized and at-risk communities, according to it its website.

“We are so sorry,” Khan said. “I cannot imagine the pain and suffering you are going through. Soheil should still be standing with us. He deserves the truth, and he deserves justice. We are sharing our grief and our love for Soheil and trying to comfort the family as much as possible.”

An edited version of a 911 call and radio traffic released by Raleigh police from an officer-involved shooting on April 20, 2019. Calls reveal that the man killed in the incident, Soheil Antonio Mojarrad, had a knife.

The shooting has raised questions about Raleigh Police Department procedures for body-worn cameras. Officer W.B. Edwards, police have identified as the officer who shot Mojarrad, had a body camera that wasn’t activated, according to a Raleigh police news release. However, department policy says cameras should be activated “as soon as feasible during all contacts involving actual or potential violations of the law,” such as traffic stops and arrests.

Police have released few details about the events leading up to the shooting of Mojarrad. Police radio traffic reveals Mojarrad had a knife, The News & Observer previously reported.

Court records show several misdemeanor arrests in past years for Mojarrad, the most recent for simple assault. It occurred in January at 1030 Rogers Lane — the address for the shopping center where Mojarrad was killed. In a pending case from August, authorities say Mojarrad punched a Cary police officer who was trying to detain him for a medical evaluation.

Raleigh police have identified the man killed in an officer-involved shooting Saturday night on Rogers Lane. Police officials say Soheil Antonio Mojarrad, 30, was killed in a shooting with officer W.B. Edwards of the Raleigh Police Department.

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Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.