Court records unsealed in lawsuit against Phoenix in police killing of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr.

·2 min read

Court documents were unsealed on Wednesday by a federal judge in the lawsuit against the City of Phoenix over the 2017 police killing of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr.

The city had requested the public and press to be barred from the initial hearing regarding the lawsuit. All of the discoveries and depositions conducted over the course of three years since Muhaymin’s death were sealed.

Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights organization, motioned to reverse this decision Oct. 8, and on Nov. 2, a federal court ruled that starting December certain documents of the case would be unsealed except for the ones that contain names of minors or information that cannot be disclosed to the public.

Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin Jr.
Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin Jr.

According to a statement from the organization, they plan to "dive into the released court records and highlight significant testimony and evidence that illuminates how Phoenix police officers killed Mr. Muhaymin and how they misled the public about it."

Muhaymin was a Black, disabled Muslim who was unarmed and who died while being detained by Phoenix police officers after trying to bring his service dog into the bathroom at a city community center in 2017. He was 43 years old.

Someone called police to say Muhaymin Jr. "assaulted" the city employee, but later retracted their statement.

After looking at Muhaymin Jr.'s identification, police found a warrant for his arrest. They ordered him to put down his dog. When he refused, multiple officers restrained him to the ground until he went into medical distress and died.

The body camera footage showed Muhaymin saying "I can't breathe" several times while officers got on top of him and held him down.

Last month, the City of Phoenix agreed to settle the lawsuit and pay Muhaymin Jr.'s family $5 million.

“To date, no officer involved in Mr. Muhaymin’s killing has ever been held accountable in any way," said Muslim Advocates staff attorney Sanaa Ansari. "By getting the judge to release these important court records, we hope to do our part to let the world know what happened to Mr. Muhaymin and finally bring at least some accountability to the officers who mocked and killed him.”

The Department of Justice is investigating the Phoenix Police Department, examining whether police have a pattern of violating civil rights.

Reach breaking news reporter MacKenzie Brower at mackenzie.brower@arizonarepublic.com or on Instagram @_photomac_.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Court records unsealed in Muhaymin family's lawsuit against the city

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