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Community Update from City Manager Huang

Yesterday, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office released the full inquest report into the fatal police shooting of Sayed Arif Faisal, which occurred on January 4, 2023. It has been a heavy 10 months for our city as we have wrestled with this tragedy and collectively grieved over a life cut short. My heart continues to break for Faisal’s family, friends, and so many impacted people in our community.


The report includes all evidence, findings, transcripts, and videos from the investigation and covers sworn testimony from 29 witnesses, 53 exhibits, and four days of court proceedings. The determination of the Court is that the fatal shooting by Officer Liam McMahon was not criminal, and the District Attorney has decided not to criminally charge Officer McMahon. The report highlights the complex, difficult, and dangerous situations our police officers face, and the challenge for us as a community to understand split-second decisions that can have tragic outcomes. 


Yet this is not a moment of justification but rather questioning and continued learning. There are many who are still left raw and hurting. And there is more work to do.


How we respond to people in mental health distress who are wielding a dangerous weapon needs to improve. There are too many examples of encounters gone wrong and grieving families – not just in Cambridge but throughout our country. We need and are committed to doing more to keep everyone in our community safe, while ensuring accountability and increased transparency.


We are making significant progress on the commitments we made in February, including implementing body worn cameras, improving less lethal options, and rolling out a procedural justice dashboard. We have hired 11 people in our Community Safety Department including two social work clinicians and six crisis responders who are receiving extensive training and will provide an alternate response to emergency calls starting in 2024. And we have worked with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), an independent consultant, to develop a new policy for releasing information to the community faster in the aftermath of a fatal police shooting. 


I believe deeply in Commissioner Christine Elow, her leadership team, and the officers and staff in this police department to serve our community, to ask hard questions, and to be committed to change. That’s why we will continue to work with PERF to do a comprehensive review of this tragedy to understand how we can improve our training, tools, policies, and practices. When complete, the recommendations and our action steps will be made public.


This is a difficult but critical conversation for Cambridge and I’m committed to working with the City Council to move forward together as a community, communicate transparently, and implement meaningful changes. 


Yi-An Huang

City Manager

Page was posted on 10/6/2023 2:26 PM
Page was last modified on 10/10/2023 5:00 PM
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