DETROIT (CN) – Michigan police refuse to turn over information about the shooting death of a Muslim religious leader during an FBI raid, making the “highly unlikely” claim that the information “does not exist,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan claims in Wayne County Court.
CAIR-MI filed three formal requests for information on the death of Imam Luqman A. Abdullah, who was fatally shot by FBI agents during an Oct. 28, 2009 raid of a warehouse in Dearborn, Mich. The raid was part of an investigation into an alleged theft operation.
The FBI claimed to have shot Abdullah after he opened fire, but the council says independent reports indicate that the Islamic leader may have shot in self-defense after being mauled by a police dog.
On the night of the warehouse raid, CAIR-MI says law enforcement conducted a “full-blown raid” on Masjid al-Haqq, a Detroit mosque, during evening prayer. Dozens of officers in 18 police cars “surrounded the building while worshippers were inside, assaulted the mosque’s security guard upon entry, and invaded the mosque with shotguns drawn, and interrupted sunset prayers,” according to the lawsuit.
Police allegedly allowed Channel 2 Fox News to record the raid from outside the mosque.
“Within days, numerous Muslim, African American and civil rights organizations called for an independent investigation into the death of Abdullah,” the council claims.
The Muslim community believed the raids were a result of “Islamophobia and discrimination against the Islamic faith,” CAIR-MI says.
The council says independent reports “revealed that an FBI K-9, Freddy, mauled Abdullah’s face, hands, and arms during the course of the raid, indicating that Abdullah may have only shot in self-defense of this mauling.”
“[T]hese independent reports also indicate that Abdullah was shot a total of 21 times, including twice in the back, contrary to initial reports,” CAIR-MI adds.
The group says Abdullah was the first Muslim leader in the United States to be “killed by the government.”
It says it has made three Freedom of Information Act requests – between February and April – for documents, videos, photographs or depictions of the raids, including death-scene photographs and weapons.
But Michigan police responded with a “blanket denial,” claiming that such records “do not exist within the department,” CAIR-MI says.
The council claims it’s “extremely likely” that state police took part in the pre- and post-raid investigations, and “highly unlikely” that police would have steered clear of the event, “which resulted in deaths involving law enforcement.”
It alleges that police either have, or once had, the information it seeks, and that the department’s responses violate FOIA.
The council demands immediate disclosure of the records, plus punitive damages.
Lead counsel is Kathryn Bruner James of Goodman & Hurwitz.