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Police report details rough play in pool prior to boy's drowning

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A game of "king of the hill" could have led to the drowning death of 12-year-old Abdullahi Charif, who was found at the bottom of his St. Louis Park school's swimming pool following gym class on Feb. 27, according reports that police released on Thursday.

MPR News obtained an investigative file from police that says one of the students told police they were playing "king of the hill" and pushing each other off rafts at the end of gym class. At one point during the game, Abdullahi was pushed from behind and belly flopped into the water, the student said.

"It is entirely plausible that Charif drowned in the manner in which [the boy] described," wrote a St. Louis Park police officer in the investigative file obtained by MPR.

Abdullahi's parents have said he wasn't a good swimmer. He used a flotation device in class, but the student told police it had floated away, MPR notes.

The gym teacher told police that he had seen Abdullahi in the shallow end at the end of gym class, the Star Tribune reported (The newspaper also obtained a copy of the investigation). But then, after spotting an extra pair of shoes near the boy's locker room, the gym teacher found Abdullahi in the deep end of the pool, the paper says.

The gym teacher pulled Abduallhi out of the pool and performed CPR. That was on Feb. 27, Abdullahi was taken off life support on March 1.

Prior to Thursday, not much was known about what could have led to Abdullahi's death. MPR says police released the investigative file to the public this week after the Hennepin County Attorney's office decided not to file criminal charges against the gym teacher due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Abduallhi's death has raised questions about pool policies at Minnesota schools – police determined the St. Louis Park school district didn't have any policies in place related to swimming pool safety and the gym teacher's certifications for lifeguarding and water safety instruction had expired, MPR reports.

Minnesota does not require lifeguards at public swimming pools nor at those in schools.

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