Local News

Parents: Man shot and killed by RPD had mental illness, brain injury, 'wanted the best for everybody'

Posted April 22, 2019 10:58 a.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2019 3:13 p.m. EDT

— The 30-year-old man shot and killed by police on Saturday had a record of run-ins with law enforcement and mental health issues, a search of his criminal history shows.

Soheil Antonio Mojarrad's most recent arrest was Jan. 10, when he was cited for an assault on a WakeMed police officer. According to that citation, Mojarrad kicked and punched the officer, who was trying to get him to return to the hospital "due to his medical hold status."

That charge came seven days after he missed a court appearance on a charge of assault on an officer. In explaining that absence, Mojarrad wrote that he "was having an anxiety attack and could not even get a ride to court" and that he went to the hospital two days later.

In August 2018, Mojarrad was cited for assaulting a Cary police officer who was, according to the citation, trying to escort him to get medical help. A note on that paperwork says the officer "thinks he needs help" and "is more interested in treatment than conviction."

Other charges on his record include second-degree trespassing (in 2009), drug possession (2010 and 2012), and misdemeanor larceny (2011).

Court documents also show that Mojarrad listed no income or employment, citing medical disability.

As they planned his funeral, Mojarrad's parents, Judy and Mehrdad Mojarrad, said Monday he was a kind soul who suffered from a traumatic brain injury compounded by mental illness.

"His heart was an ocean. He had immense empathy and compassion," Mehrdad Mojarrad said of his son.

Soheil Mojarrad was hit by a truck in 2012 in Asheville, just hours after his parents reported him as a missing person to the Asheville Police Department.

"He was struggling every day, and he kept saying to me over and over that he just wanted to be normal again, he just wanted to live a good life," Judy Mojarrad said.

Others described a person who could be easily upset and had outbursts at the grocery store near his home and the condominium where his father lived.

"As a society, we failed him. Mental illness, brain trauma – it seems like we first figure out someone is guilty and then figure out what happens, and now here we are," Mehrdad Mojarrad said.

“Soheil was a great person as well as a good friend, always offering his assistance or an optimistic opinion," a friend told WRAL News.

"His favorite thing to say when he saw us was, open-armed, 'heyy fellas.' He had his many challenges in life like any other human being, but we just want him to be remembered as an amazing person."

Mojarrad lived with his mother at 649 Pencross Drive, about a mile from the scene of Saturday's shooting.

It is not clear what led to Mojarrad's final encounter with police. He was shot around 8:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a strip mall that includes a Food Lion, a Sheetz and several other businesses.

The police officer who shot Mojarrad, W.B. Edwards, was wearing a body camera, but it was not activated at the time of the shooting. However, the Raleigh Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation are reviewing other video related to the incident, according to a news release.

The business closest to the site of the shooting – Overtime Sports Pub – has provided surveillance video for that investigation. Dan Clark, owner of the Overtime said he didn't even realize the police activity was taking place until officers came into the bar afterwards.

In radio traffic as Mojarrad was shot, officers can be heard telling dispatchers, "I’ve got shots fired. He’s armed with a knife. He pulled a knife. Suspect’s down. Suspect is down.”

Mojarrad's parents are adamant that he did not have a gun, but said they knew him to carry a Swiss Army knife. They say they just want answers, and so far, Raleigh police have given them none.

Raleigh police have not answered why Edwards' body camera was not on, what his job status is or whether they found a weapon at the scene.

"I just want to know why, what happened, how could that happen to a kid who wanted the best for everybody?" Judy Mojarrad said.

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