The following includes editorial content written by a retired Police Chief and contributing writer for Law Enforcement Today.
DEARBORN, MI- Let’s get this out of the way at the jump…if you walk into a police station with a gun in your hand, point that gun at a police officer and pull the trigger, you can pretty much bet things aren’t going to go well for you.
Such is the case of Ali Naji, 33, who walked into the lobby of the Dearborn Police Department earlier this month in the afternoon carrying a stolen 9mm handgun. He looked around in the lobby before a police officer in a nearby room entered the lobby area, according to the Michigan State Police. It was then that Naji made the decision which cost him his life, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Naji took the stolen 9mm, pointed it at that police officer and pulled the trigger. Only but for the grace of God did the gun malfunction, but that wasn’t enough to save Naji from the fate which he himself tempted.
The officer opened fire on Naji, shooting him several times, according to First Lt. Mike Shaw, a spokesman for the Michigan State Police told the Free Press.
There is some confusion in the reporting, with the paper writing initially that the officer entered the lobby. However further along, it says the officer opened a sliding door on a bullet-resistant window and fatally shot Naji.
Shaw noted that there is really no such thing as “bulletproof” glass—only bullet resistant products which do not provide full protection.
According to a number of glass manufacturers, in fact, several different 9mm rounds are able to penetrate a number of different bullet-resistant glass products.
As expected, the Monday-morning quarterbacks are out, including Attorney Amir Makled who was retained by Naji’s family. Can Ben Crump be far behind?
Makled actually acknowledged that Naji posed a threat when he pointed the gun at the police officer, however, argues the killing could have been avoided through “de-escalation” protocols. Clearly, ,Makled has never been on the business end of a 9mm round.
“Officers are trained to and should be skilled at recognizing mental health crises. The deceased was not in a state to know right from wrong,” Makled said.
Makled completely ignores the fact that Naji apparently, according to reports, turned on the officer when he entered the lobby area and proceeded to pull the trigger. It doesn’t appear that “de-escalation” was an option for someone who pulled the trigger intending to shoot a police officer. If Naji was mentally disturbed, that is tragic. But it doesn’t mean that police acted improperly.
Yet, Makled continued his diatribe.
“At what point did police know there was someone in the lobby with a firearm? Did they give (Naji) the opportunity and time to comply with demands of law enforcement? At what point were law enforcement in immediate threat if there’s bullet-proof glass? This is what we’re trying to find out.”
According to Makled, Naji lived in Dearborn his whole life and graduated from a local high school. He was said to love soccer and (of course) had a bright future ahead of him. Because don’t all people who attempt to shoot or actually shoot police officers have a “bright future” ahead of them?
Makled noted that Naji had been recently married and his wife is pregnant. A tragedy for sure because now a child will not have a father, but that was a decision made by him, not by the police who responded as they are trained to do.
Makled also noted that Naji was “family oriented.”
“They stick together. They’re very devastated. All the comments I’ve gotten from his family was that Ali was a loving and caring husband. Ali was a loving and caring son to his parents. A loving and caring brother to his two sisters and brother.”
Makled said the family wants him to get more information regarding the shooting and is demanding Michigan State Police release video of the incident. Shaw said that while the incident is under investigation, no video will be released which could jeopardize it.
Naji’s family meanwhile is demanding answers and a second attorney working on the case, Cyril Hall, calls it a “civil rights” case.
“The victim’s civil rights were immediately violated when the police officer fired his gun without, apparently, any consideration to deescalate the situation. The killing of our client’s loved one was unnecessary and we believe the entire confrontation could have been brought to a non-lethal close,” Hall said.
Agreed. If Naji hadn’t brought a gun into a police station, pointed it at a cop, and pulled the trigger “the entire confrontation could have been brought to a non-lethal close.”
Continuing, Hall said:
“We need to determine if officers first failed to explore other options before resorting to fatal force. The officers involved had a duty to de-escalate this very fluid situation and give Mr. Naji the time, opportunity, and space to put down his firearm. If the firearm did in fact malfunction, then clearly the imminent threat no longer existed.”
To that point, Shaw disagreed when asked if a non-lethal response to Naji’s actions was warranted, noting the officer didn’t have the opportunity to take such an approach.
Shaw said investigators are still reviewing evidence on scene, including video evidence and have also interviewed witnesses.
Naji, however was described as a “deeply troubled” man, having been arrested in 2016 for a criminal arson case. His attorney from that case, Nabih Ayad told Local-4 in Detroit:
“He lit a little strip mall on fire thinking that he wanted to keep people warm in the wintertime. No one was injured, thank God.”
Naji did not face jail time from that arrest, instead receiving “extensive mental health treatment,” Ayad said.
In the police department incident, Shaw described what happened:
“You can see him walking up to the front desk and pulls out a 9mm handgun from his pocket, points it at the police officer that’s behind the desk and pulls the trigger.”
Shaw said that he has seen security video of the incident and disputes Makled’s version of the incident.
“He walked in and scanned the lobby to either shoot somebody else that was in the lobby as he walked in there and pulled a handgun,” Shaw said.
Meanwhile Naji’s family wants the district attorney to look into the case to examine if any charges should be brought against the police officer who was protecting his life from an armed gunman who tried to shoot him.
Oh to be a police officer in 2022.
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