A Detroit-area imam who died in a shootout with the FBI in October was shot 21 times — at least once in the back — and found by police lying down with his wrists in handcuffs behind him, says a local Detroit news report.
The FBI has described Luqman Ameen Abdullah, whose mosque served some 25 families, as “a separatist Muslim intent on overthrowing the United States government,” according to the New York Times, but the bureau has not alleged any terrorist activity against him, and has charged that Abdullah was involved in fencing stolen goods. Federal authorities had been monitoring Abdullah “for years,” the Times reported.
Now a medical examiner’s report, obtained by Fox Channel 2 in Detroit, shows the imam had been shot 21 times, including at least once in the back, and his body was found on the ground with his wrists handcuffed behind his back.
The medical examiner’s report is scheduled to be released this week, but had been delayed for months after Dearborn police, who are investigating the FBI in the matter, filed a court affidavit requesting the document be kept sealed, Fox 2 reported.
Informed of the circumstances of Abdullah’s death, a visibly stunned member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the news only increased suspicions about the imam’s death.
“I wonder why he was shot in the back … and handcuffed,” said Dawud Walid, Michigan executive director for CAIR. “It’s very difficult to comprehend. … We thought that transparency would be the best remedy to remove the clouds of suspicion over this case. Unfortunately, because of the autopsy report being suppressed per the request of the Dearborn Police Department,it’s brought more suspicion and more conspiracy theories regarding this case.”
“It’s even more horrendous than we first [thought],” Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality told the Detroit Free Press. Scott is calling for an independent investigation into the shooting.
John Freeman, a defense attorney and former prosecutor in Troy, Michigan, told the Free Press that you can’t draw conclusions from the number of bullets fired as to whether excessive force was used.
“You can’t draw any conclusions whatsoever by the number of times a person is struck by a bullet,” Freeman said. “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.”
But CAIR’s Walid points to questions about the other circumstances reportedly mentioned in the coroner’s report.
“First of all, did the FBI agents follow established procedure when they shot the imam 21 times? How was the imam shot in the back? Was it proper procedure to handcuff either a dead body or a mortally-wounded suspect? If the agents found the imam alive following the shooting, did they call for medical assistance? All these questions need answers,” he said in a press release.
According to Fox 2, the raid began Oct. 28 when FBI agents sent a police dog into the warehouse where Abdullah was located. Abdullah allegedly shot the dog, which later died. FBI officers then moved in, and began shooting when they took fire from Abdullah. The Free Press describes the day of the shooting like this:
FBI agents and local police surrounded a warehouse on Miller Road near Michigan Avenue [in Dearborn], 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 Detroit News reports that the FBI opened fire only after Abdullah had fired some three dozen shots. The firefight lasted only four seconds, and four FBI agents fired “an average of five shots each” at the suspect.
The following video was broadcast on Fox Channel 2 in Detroit, and uploaded to YouTube by CAIR.