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Sahlah Ridgeway

Sahlah Ridgeway

Birth date:

November 7, 1983

Death date:

February 12, 2016

Age at Death:



Ms. Ridgeway was a single woman, who attended Fowler High School, but did not graduate. Her mother describes her love of being around children, and that she was a child at heart. She loved music, and competed as a rapper, winning several contests. Her mother believes it was her daughter’s dreams to become a mainstream rapper that motivated her take photos with guns, which were posted on her Facebook. Her mother suspected she was bipolar, though not diagnosed. Less than a year prior to her death, Ms. Ridgeway had sought counseling for anger management but her mother said she was not the "gangster" that the media was trying to portray her as given her social media posts. Her mother said those posts helped boost her rap music following.

Ms. Ridgeway was alone in her apartment the night of the shooting death, being visited by an adult male friend and they decided to take her sawed off shot gun outside to shoot it and blow off some steam. Unknown to her, another apartment building resident had called police to report a suspected dealer in the building. As officers arrived, they observed Ms. Ridgeway, who fit the description of the drug dealer, and approached the pair. Ms. Ridgeway, seeing the officer, turned to run in the opposite direction while her companion stayed close to the officer who yelled twice for her to stop. The officer was still under the impression she fit the description of the drug dealer and also noted she had a firearm. So the officer drew his firearm and two officers pursued her; she continued to attempt to run, then turned to face officers, sawed off shotgun in her hands, looking like she was unlocking the lock. She was shot twice, officers report they rendered aid and called for an ambulance. It was later determined the shotgun was stolen.

Was justice served?

Officers drew weapons when seeing Ms. Ridgeway carrying a shotgun, they felt their lives threatened when she did not yield to their demands and put the weapon down. Her visiting friend provided statements that corroborate her eluding police and heard the police yell at her to stop. He did not witness the shooting. Ms. Ridgeway's mother filed a lawsuit against the city of Syracuse, alleging a) responding officers were poorly trained, b) used excessive force and c) Ms. Ridgeway was not given immediate/timely response to her wounds (indifference). The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge for lack of evidence in February, 2019. There are some unanswered questions: 1) why didn't she stop, and 2) why was she shot in the back if she had been facing officers as reported. Source:

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