August 20, 2020
Issue: Law Enforcement Bias
New Body Camera Footage Shows Phoenix Officer Mocking Muslim Faith of Black Man Before Being Killed
“Allah? He’s not going to help you right now.”
PHOENIX — Today, civil rights advocates released body camera footage of the Phoenix police killing of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr. with clear audio of an officer mocking Muahymin’s Muslim faith. Advocates also announced expanded efforts to urge Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel to fire, charge and arrest the officers responsible for this 2017 death and to appoint a special criminal prosecutor. To date, none of the officers involved have been disciplined or charged and all still work for the Phoenix Police Department.
Muhaymin was killed by officers after he tried to bring his service dog into the bathroom of a community center in Maricopa County in Arizona. Despite being unarmed and non-violent, Muhaymin was pinned down by four Phoenix police officers with their knees on his neck, head and body, leading to his brutal death.
In the never before seen footage from the body camera of Officer Jason Hobel, an officer is heard clearly for the first time cruelly responding to Muhaymin’s plea of “Please, Allah” with “Allah? He’s not going to help you right now.” Moments later, Muhaymin is killed.
- Click here to watch the footage (warning: graphic content). Muhaymin’s call to God and the response from the officer, which have not been published before, are at 6:10.
- Click here for recent CNN reporting about this case. CNN wrote that the statement regarding Muhaymin’s faith was said by an officer, but audio and video of the statement were not made public.
In light of this new footage, advocates for police accountability, Muslims, the disabled and civil rights have stepped up their demands on Mayor Gallego and County Attorney Adel to fire, charge and arrest the officers responsible for his death and appoint a special criminal prosecutor to the case. In a letter convened by the Arizona organizing collective Poder in Action and the national civil rights group Muslim Advocates, 61 local and national organizations groups say that “Muhaymin was a family man, a Black man, a Muslim man, and a disabled man. The footage and subsequent news reporting shows officers either mocked or disregarded all of these aspects of his identity before they killed him.”
- Click here to read the letter from 61 local and national organizations. The letter is still available for open signing by organizations and will be hand-delivered by Phoenix advocates on August 26.
The groups continued that “even though the footage clearly demonstrates the officers engaged in illegal and discriminatory acts, and a Maricopa County medical examiner determined the cause of death to be that of ‘homicide,’ the Phoenix Police Department cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.” And that “since the county originally considered the facts and circumstances surrounding this death, a civil action has uncovered numerous factual errors and eye-witness testimony that clearly establishes that Muhaymin was murdered and the conduct by the officers violated the department’s use of force and duty to intervene policy.”
The organizations are also planning future actions and organizing, including:
- In recent weeks, concern about this case has skyrocketed, with various petitions from Muslim.co, the Grassroots Law Project and Muslim Advocates garnering more than 73,000 signatures and counting.
- On August 26, Poder in Action and Arizona-based advocates are organizing an action outside of Phoenix City Hall. More details on this action are forthcoming.
Below are quotes from key stakeholders in this case and organizers of the letter.
Mussalina Muhaymin, sister of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr.:
“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. Muhammad Muhaymin Jr. was a man—a man with a family who loved him. He was attacked and suffocated by Phoenix police in a wanton, malicious and depraved manner for nearly eight minutes as he cried ‘I can’t breathe’ until his death. The city and county have taken no action to hold the responsible officers accountable for the brutal murder. The lack of any criminal action is a constant reminder to our family that black and brown people’s lives and rights are not valued by the politicians and public servants of Maricopa County and the city of Phoenix. Every action we have to take to demand justice reminds us of these inequities and re-opens our wounds. We implore Mayor Gallego and County Attorney Adel to hold the responsible officers accountable and to demonstrate that the lives of religious and racial minorities have value.”
Scott Simpson, public advocacy director of Muslim Advocates:
“Some of the last words Muhaymin ever heard were the police mocking his desperate plea to God as they forced the life out of his body. It’s indefensible that Mayor Gallego and County Attorney Adel allow these officers to continue policing communities in Phoenix. They were not in charge when this murder happened but they’re in charge now. This new footage makes clear that these officers must be fired, charged and arrested immediately.”
Viri Hernandez, executive director of Poder in Action:
“These officers are all actively policing in Phoenix with no accountability and no oversight. How can people of color, Muslims and the disabled trust that they’ll be protected by Mayor Gallego and County Attorney Adel when they’re bending over backwards to protect these violent officers?”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.
Poder in Action’s mission is to build power to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression and determine a liberated future as people of color in Arizona through our lived experience, leadership development and civic participation.