‘Allah? He’s not going to help you’, police mock Black Muslim man during ‘knee on neck arrest’ before he died

25th Sep 2020
‘Allah? He’s not going to help you’,  police mock Black Muslim man during ‘knee on neck arrest’ before he died

(Photo credit: Change.org petition)

Nadine Osman

A US civil rights organisation has released body camera footage showing police mocking the religion of a homeless Black Muslim man during a ‘knee on neck’ arrest just hours before he died in custody on January 4, 2017.

Muslim Advocates released the video of the arrest of Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin Jr in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 20.

The incident echoes George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May.

During the nine minutes and 50 seconds footage, an officer could be seen kneeling on Muhaymin’s neck as the 43-year-old is heard crying out in pain and calling for Allah. An officer from the Phoenix Police Department is heard saying, “Allah? He’s not going to help you right now… Relax dude. Stop moving. Stop resisting.”

Sergeant Mercedes Fortune disputes that interpretation of the incident insisting his officers ‘did not mock or target Muhaymin based on his religion, race, or any other factor. When Muhaymin is heard to say “Please Allah,” the officer responded, “Allah? We’re trying to help you right now dude so relax.”’, wrote Sgt Fortune in an email.

Previous body camera footage from the police included Muhaymin’s plea that he could not breathe, but left out the statements related to his belief.
However, Muhaymin’s family accuses the police of deliberately omitting the damming part of the video when it was initially released to the media 20 days after his death.

“We think this type of information will help maybe get somebody to take a second look whether these officers should still be patrolling this neighbourhood. There’s no doubt that the city manipulated the narrative,” said David Chami, the attorney representing the victim’s family in a lawsuit against the city.

But Sergeant Fortune said any records related to the incident were released to the media and other parties the first time they requested them.

Muhaymin’s sister, Mussallina, said, “‘Muhammad Muhaymin Jr was a man – a man with a family who loved him. The city of Phoenix and the Phoenix police targeted my brother for his race; they mocked him for his religion and disability, and then brutally killed him.”

She has said her brother was homeless and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. None of the officers have been criminally charged or faced internal discipline for their actions.

Muhaymin’s family has filed a $10 million wrongful death suit against the city alleging excessive force and wrongful death. The incident began when police were called to the Maryvale Community Centre in Arizona’s capital city after a dispute arose over whether he could bring his service dog into a public bathroom.

Muhaymin was eventually allowed to go into the bathroom. But officers ran records check and discovered he had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court for a drug-paraphernalia possession charge. Once outside the community centre, tensions ensued as an officer told Muhaymin to put down his dog because he was under arrest.

The lawsuit says an officer knocked the dog out of Muhaymin’s hands after he stated he did not have anyone to care for the animal. Muhaymin was forced to the ground after police had asked him to cooperate, and he cried in pain as he was handcuffed.

The officer who made the belittling comment to Muhaymin is now facing a felony. After officers brought Muhaymin to a police SUV in the parking lot, officers again urged him to stop moving. The struggle continued, and Muhaymin is heard saying, “’I can’t breathe.’ The lawsuit claims minutes later, Muhaymin went into cardiac arrest, began vomiting and died.”

In February 2018 the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office refused to criminally charge the officers involved, alleging it did not believe the officers committed acts that warranted prosecution. Transcripts and video from depositions in the case became available after a federal judge in June had denied a request made by the city of Phoenix suppress them.

The request was made after attorneys for the city accused a lawyer representing Muhaymin’s sister of using social media to garner news coverage and incite violence against officers.

 

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