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Lawsuit accuses Dearborn Police of assaulting mentally handicapped man

A mentally handicapped Dearborn man plans to sue the city for alleged police brutality.

28-year-old Ali Beydoun was stopped by police while riding his bike home from his job as a dishwasher in December.

A dashcam video shows that an officer approaches him, and asks a few questions.

But when the officer tries to pat him down for weapons, Beydoun resists. He’s then wrestled to the ground and kicked by officers.

Beydoun’s lawyers say that same video shows officers used excessive force.


Attorney Amir Makled says it also should have been obvious to officers that his client is mentally disabled.

Makled says the situation was complicated by the fact that Beydoun only speaks limited English. His family emigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon six years ago.

“They’re just coming to America to help start a new leaf in their life, and to pursue the American dream,” Makled says. “And as soon as they get here, they’re attacked at the hand of the government.”

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, adds there was no reason for the police to stop Beydoun in the first place.

“He wasn’t charged with anything,” Walid says. “There was no criminal activity going on. Yet this young man was not only physically harmed, but also suffered mental anguish.”

In a written statement, the city of Dearborn says the officers found Beydoun suspicious for several reasons – including the fact that he was “not dressed appropriately for the 20-degree weather that December morning.”

It adds that Beydoun was in “a neighborhood that has experienced auto thefts and break-ins. It is common for criminals to use a bike when traveling to an area to steal cars.” Beydoun was also unable to produce identification.

Dearborn is standing by its officers, saying the video shows that Beydoun “resisted officers’ lawful instructions, resulting in the necessary use of force … the officers acted and reported the incident appropriately and according to approved department protocols.”

Beydoun’s lawyers say they plan to file a civil rights lawsuit in federal court this week.

CAIR-Michigan has also requested that the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division look into the incident. 

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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