Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan confirmed Thursday that an independent investigation into the fatal shooting of a Cambridge college student is now underway.
Ryan said that after a request from her office on Jan. 11, "the inquest process into the death of Arif Sayed Faisal has begun." An inquest is an independent investigation led by a judge, with no direct involvment from the district attorney's office.
The district attorney's office said that "per order of the court," no further details about the inquest will be provided until the process has been completed.
Faisal, 20, a UMass Boston computer engineering student, was shot and killed by a police officer during a confrontation in Cambridge on Jan. 4, according to authorities. He was allegedly wielding a 12-inch knife at the time.
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Police received a 911 call that afternoon saying that a man was seen jumping out of the window of an apartment with the weapon and appeared to be cutting himself with it, as well as broken glass from the window. Officers and paramedics found the man, later identified as Faisal, bleeding in an alley.
He then reportedly ran with the knife for several blocks after seeing police, who requested that he drop the weapon, according to a preliminary investigation by the Middlesex district attorney’s office and police.
Faisal then reportedly moved toward the police while still holding the knife, even when they fired a non-lethal round in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. Authorities said Faisal continued to advance toward police. One officer fired a gun, striking Faisal, who later died at an area hospital.
The deadly police shooting has sparked protests and outrage in Cambridge, leading city officials to announce a series of reforms, including a proposal to eventually have all officers wear body cameras.
"It has been a heavy and heart-breaking start to 2023 for Cambridge," City Manager Y-An Huang said in a statement last week. "The shooting and death of Arif Sayed Faisal by a Cambridge Police officer have weighed painfully on our community. Over the years, I have shared in our collective grief from the tragic deaths of Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tyre Nichols, and so many others. As a nation, we are wrestling with how to fix policing, and Faisal’s death highlights that even in Cambridge, we have more work to accomplish.
But officials have not released the name of the officer who shot Faisal, as protesters and others in the community have called for.
Also last week, Cambridge Police Commissioner Christine Elow announced in a statement that the preliminary review of Faisal's shooting found no "egregious misconduct or significant policy, training, equipment, or disciplinary violations," and that the officer, a seven-year veteran of the force, has never been the subject of a complaint in Cambridge. The officer remains on paid leave.
Faisal, who was known as Prince by his family, was an only child who was never violent and had never been involved with law enforcement before, his parents have said in a statement released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Mr. Faisal's family is very pleased that the inquest process is moving along far more quickly than expected," a representative for the family said in a statement to NBC10 Boston Friday. "It will still take time, perhaps more time than many people would like, but we understand that a thorough investigation cannot be done hastily. The family appreciates NBC10's continuing interest in their quest for justice."
Days after the shooting, protesters at a rally outside Cambridge City Hall organized by the Bangladesh Association of New England held signs saying "Justice for Faisal" and "Faisal needed help not bullets," while friends and teachers remembered his friendliness, his positive outlook and his intelligence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.