(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 7/9/14) – The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) announced today that it filed a Petition for Writ of Certiori to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the family of Imam Luqman Abdullah, who was killed during an FBI raid in 2009.
[NOTE: A Petition for Writ of Certiori is a request to the United Supreme Court to review an opinion of a lower court for legal error].
The Petition seeks to overturn a decision issued on February 13, 2015, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which found that the estate’s claim began to run on the day Imam Abdullah was killed: October 28, 2009. Accordingly, knowledge of the killing itself started the clock, and the estate was responsible to determine the facts underlying the wrongful death and the identities of the four FBI agent shooters within the three-year limitations period.
After Imam Abdullah, a respected Detroit-area Muslim leader, was killed, the Detroit Division of the FBI issued a press release stating that “[d]uring the arrests today, the suspects were ordered to surrender. At one location, four suspects surrendered and were arrested without incident. Luqman Ameen Abdullah did not surrender and fired his weapon. An exchange of gun fire followed and Abdullah was killed.”
CAIR-MI, on behalf of Imam Abdullah’s family, challenged the FBI’s account of the shooting and sought information related to the events surrounding his death. CAIR-MI filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against six government agencies, including the FBI. Settlements of these lawsuits yielded more than 1,000 pages of documents, including photographs, video footage, police cam footage, and audio. However, the documents withheld the identities of the FBI shooters and mirrored the FBI-narrative that Imam Abdullah fired a weapon toward the agents.
On September 30, 2010, 11 months after Abdullah’s death, the Michigan attorney general released a report on the shooting. The report disclosed that four FBI Agents shot Abdullah; however, their identities were withheld. Moreover, the report concluded the shooting was justified because Imam Abdullah fired a weapon towards the FBI agents.
On October 13, 2010, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released its report. That report also exonerated the FBI Agents of any liability, and found the shooting to be justified under federal law. Again, the DOJ Report withheld the identities of the FBI shooters.
On October 25, 2012, the sole civilian eyewitness provided the Estate with a sworn affidavit that Imam Abdullah followed the FBI Agents commands to show his hands and get down on the ground, that Imam Abdullah was not carrying or holding a weapon and did not point a weapon at any FBI agents.
The estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit the following day against “Unidentified FBI Agents,” and within the three-year limitations period. However, because the FBI shooters were not named parties to the lawsuit, the lawsuit was dismissed as untimely.
CAIR-MI now seeks to overturn the Sixth Circuit Court’s decision, arguing that the three-year limitations period did not begin to run until the estate learned the truth of the events that transpired that led to the shooting death of Imam Abdullah: that he was unarmed, that he did not fire toward any FBI agents, and that he surrendered and was lying on the ground when the FBI first released a K-9 that attacked and mauled him, and then shot and killed him.
“We are hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court grants certiori, reverses the decision of the lower court, and allows the wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Imam Abdullah to move forward,” said CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri. “The Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling is extremely concerning as it allows the government to cover up the facts and identities of those involved in a wrongful killing, and to ultimately escape liability.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-MI Attorney Lena Masri, 248-390-1203, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, E-Mail: email@example.com; Attorney Shereef Akeel, 248-408-3660, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Attorney Wil Thomas, (248) 269 9595, E-Mail: email@example.com, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org