Often, Monday morning quarterbacks rush to judgement, especially when it comes to the issues of firearms and self-defense. Such is the case regardless of whether the shooter is a sworn law enforcement officer or a civilian lawfully in possession of a firearm. Take the recent news story concerning the FBI’s shooting of a Muslim cleric during a raid in Detroit, which is reproduced below. Knowing your actions will be closely examined and perhaps unfarily judged before all the facts are in makes it imperative to educate and mentally prepare yourself if you carry a defensive firearm on a daily basis.
January 31, 2010
Imam’s son: FBI was just ‘inhumane’
Lawyer: Wounds don’t seal agents’ fault
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO and BEN SCHMITT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
Muslim advocates and the family of the Islamic cleric killed in a shootout with FBI agents said Saturday his autopsy report appears to show excessive force. But a legal expert said the number of times a person is shot can’t by itself determine whether agents acted inappropriately in the Oct. 28 killing in Dearborn of Luqman Ameen Abdullah.
Prosecutors say the Muslim cleric was an extremist dealing in stolen goods.
An autopsy report shows he was struck 21 times, including in the back. His family said when they washed his body, they discovered he also was shot in his genitalia.
“It’s so inhumane,” Omar Regan, 34, one of Abdullah’s sons, told the Free Press on Saturday. “How do you justify that? There’s no justification for that.”
FBI Detroit Special Agent Sandra Berchtold said Saturday she had no comment on the autopsy report or the investigation by Dearborn police.
“They are actually investigating us, so we can’t comment,” she said.
Too soon for outrage?
Regan and others have called for an independent investigation because of concerns they have about how federal agents targeted Abdullah.
“It’s even worse than we thought,” Regan said of the autopsy report. “It’s ridiculous.”
But John Freeman, a former federal and state prosecutor who is a defense attorney in Troy, said it’s premature to draw conclusions. Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad said they are continuing their investigation into how the FBI acted in the Oct. 28 raid to arrest Abdullah and his followers.
“You can’t draw any conclusions whatsoever by the number of times a person is struck by a bullet,” Freeman said Saturday. “It is unfair to draw conclusions that anything was excessive based strictly on the number of rounds that was fired. … The determination on whether anything was excessive has to be made on the totality of the circumstances, including what the deceased was doing and what he was perceived to have been doing.”
FBI agents and local police surrounded a warehouse on Miller Road near Michigan Avenue, believing Abdullah and others were inside.
When agents entered the warehouse, four of the men obeyed orders to surrender, but Abdullah opened fire and was shot to death, FBI agents said at the time.
The FBI has said that Abdullah opened fire first, and FBI agents at the Dearborn warehouse responded by firing on him. The FBI did not release what kind of weapon Abdullah had or how many agents opened fire.
The FBI has said Abdullah shot a police dog during the raid that later died.
Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Saturday that his group wants a copy of the autopsy report of the dog to confirm what happened.
A source close to the case said Abdullah was handcuffed after being shot, which is standard procedure in such incidents.
Walid said his group plans to have an independent forensic pathologist review the autopsy report.
“The report brings more of a cloud of uncertainty to the situation,” Walid said Saturday. “It just brings more questions.”
Concern over informants grows
The two-year investigation of Abdullah and his followers drew criticism from Muslim and African-American groups for its use of undercover informants. Family members of Abdullah told the Free Press that it was an informant who led Abdullah to the Dearborn warehouse where he was killed.
Over the past year, there has been growing concern about the use of informants in Muslim-American communities, echoing the use of informants in African-American communities during the civil rights movement, advocates say. Abdullah led a Detroit mosque, Masjid Al-Haqq, which is predominantly African American and formed by people sometimes critical of how law enforcement officials treat African Americans.
Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit FBI office Andrew Arena has said that using informants is legitimate police work, and that criminals can’t hide behind religious institutions. He also has defended the actions of his agents on Oct. 28, saying “we did what we had to do.”
Regan said he wants the head of the FBI to take responsibility for what happened.
“When do you take responsibility?” Regan said. “This is inhumane.”
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said a news conference set for Monday will not end the probe into Abdullah’s death.
“Our responsibility to the community is to ensure that we investigate this incident to obtain an accurate accounting of what occurred,” Haddad said. “It is complex, and once completed, we can move forward. I truly understand people’s concern to bring this matter to closure.”