‘We don’t know how to survive’: Queensland family seeks answers for death in police shooting | Australian police and policing

When Nasera Rane visits her son’s grave – something she does several times a week – she sits on a deck chair plastered with a pithy quote: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love, leaves a memory no one can steal.”

“Being in this situation is extremely difficult. We don’t know how to survive, waking up every day and facing reality again,” Rane says.

Rane said her 24-year-old son, Mohamad Ikraam Bahram, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2017. She feels strongly that he would still be alive today if he had appropriate mental health support.

She said Bahram had suffered a severe mental health episode when he stabbed a tourist with a knife in Brisbane in February 2020.

The tourist was taken to hospital with minor injuries, but the incident cost Bahram his life after he reportedly charged police with the weapon. Rane said police fired up to 15 rounds that day, with ten landing on his body.

Nasera Rane visits her son’s grave several times a week. Photograph: Nasera Rane

A pre-inquest conference will be held on Monday, ahead of a coronial inquiry – expected later this year – looking into the circumstances leading up to the shooting, including the mental health treatment Bahram received.

It will also examine whether police actions were appropriate and whether the training provided to officers is sufficient.

Rane said her son’s mental health had deteriorated in the months leading up to the shooting, with him ending up in the hospital two months prior.

“It was so real to him. We could not say anything. He was hiding in the car, thinking the police were waiting outside to shoot him,” she said.

Before Bahram was hospitalized, she was concerned her son had been forgoing medication.

She said when Bahram was discharged after four days in the hospital on 24 December, he has not prescribed any regular psychotic medication and could not see a psychiatrist until 7 February.

“It probably takes about four to six weeks for the medication to work,” Rane said. “After one bad mental health episode, he took off and entered the city.”

Queensland Health has been contacted for comment.

Queensland family

In February 2020, the state’s health minister, Steven Miles, said the care provided to Bahram by Queensland Health would be investigated.

“Mental health issues are very complex, and what we can do as a health service is ensure we have the resources and staffing to support people, and we are doing that,” Miles said.

Rita Jabri-Maxwell, a lawyer for the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network, says the case also highlights issues with how police interact with Muslims who have mental health conditions.

Bahram’s mother called the police in 2016 after her son reportedly got aggressive with his roommate.

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After Queensland police officers visited Bahram, he received a visit from an Australian Federal Police (AFP) community liaison officer who spoke with him about his religious beliefs.

It remains unclear why AFP visited Bahram. However, his family believes the community liaison officer came away from that meeting concluding that he posed no terrorism risk.

The AFP and the Queensland police service say it is inappropriate to comment as the matter is subject to an ongoing coronial inquiry.

But Jabri-Maxwell, who has been in constant contact with Bahram’s family over the years, said the interaction spiraled him and planted a seed in his head.

“He told his mother, you’ve opened up a can of worms here,” Jabri-Maxwell said. “He felt paranoid that he was on some sort of watch list.”

Mohamad Ikraam Bahram’s family says he was a ‘very kind and caring person’. Photograph: Nasera Rane

Jabri-Maxwell said there is a culture within the police to see Muslim troubled youth or those experiencing a mental illness through the prism of a possible terrorism risk.

“Muslim young men are already feeling under that watchful eye,” Jabri-Maxwell said.

“We should be trying to reduce the amount of police engagement and increase the amount of mental health engagement.”

Rane said the situation worsens “when you don’t have mental health support”.

“Ikraam was a very kind and caring person.”

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.