New body-camera footage released last Wednesday revealed Phoenix police insulted Muhammad Muhaymin Jr.’s faith while he pleaded for help before his death.
HuffPost reports that Muhaymin could be heard multiple times pleading with officers that he couldn’t breathe. At one point, Muhaymin calls out to Allah for help to which one of the officers responds, “Allah? He’s not going to help you right now.” The footage depicts multiple officers pinning Muhaymin to the ground with at least one placing their knees on his neck and back.
Muhaymin’s death, which occurred in January 2017, has garnered renewed scrutiny due to its disturbing similarity to George Floyd’s death at the hands of police earlier this year. In the three years since Muhyamin’s death, none of the nine officers involved have been arrested or charged. The officers, identified as Oswald Grenier, Jason Hobel, Ronaldo Canilao, David Head, Susan Heimbigner, Kevin McGowan, James Clark, Dennis Leroux, Ryan Nielsen and supervisor Steven Wong, are all still employed by the Phoenix Police Department.
The Phoenix Police Department told HuffPost that the officer was not actually mocking Muhaymin’s faith with the Allah comment. They claimed the officer actually said “Allah? We’re trying to help you right now dude so relax.” Officers could also be heard calling Muhaymin a “motherfucker” and a “dumbass” on the footage before he died.
“Our law enforcement officers are trained to diffuse [sic] situations where possible, which was also done with Mr. Muhaymin,” a spokesperson told HuffPost. The officers were so good at diffusing situations that a man is now dead for trying to use the bathroom
Muhaymin, who was homeless and suffered from mental illness, was attempting to enter the restroom of a local community center with his service dog, Chiquita. Initially, he was told he couldn’t enter the facility but he eventually was allowed to use the restroom. While in the restroom, an employee at the center was directed to call the police. When police arrived, they found that Muhaymin had a warrant out for his arrest after missing a court date for a charge of misdemeanor possession of a marijuana pipe.
An investigation into Muhaymin’s death was closed after “a determination was made at that time to not file criminal charges against the officers,” a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told HuffPost. “Should a law enforcement agency submit the case to our office for a second review, we would then review any new facts and evidence and determine if criminal charges are warranted,” they added.
The lack of justice or any consequences for the officers has prevented the Muhaymin family from having any closure over Muhammad’s death. The family is currently suing the city and a trial is expected early next year. “The way that [the officers] spoke to him, the way that they treated him, they dehumanized him. And then afterward the narratives that they put out dehumanized him and put out the perception that he was just a homeless guy with mental health issues,” Mussalina Muhaymin, Muhammad’s sister, told HuffPost.
“He was so much more than that. [The police] made an assumption about who this person is based on his appearance as a Black male and his name Muhammad Muhaymin Jr. But this is who he is. I want to paint that true picture of who he is, not based on the assumptions.”