Unwarranted Arrest of Black Activist Who Watches Police Leaves Him With Fractured Shoulder

by on July 12, 2023 · 2 comments

in Civil Rights, Media, San Diego

By Katie Hyson / KPBS / July 11, 2023

A dozen community members gathered in front of San Diego Police Headquarters on Tuesday, holding signs that read “We know what you did” and “Accountability is not the enemy.” They are demanding the release of the body camera footage of the arrest of Muslah Abdul-Hafeez.

Abdul-Hafeez scribbled last minute notes before limping up to join his supporters.

He took a breath before addressing the gathered journalists: “I’m a business owner, a father and a son, and a Black man who was brutalized by the San Diego Police Department bike team officers on Sunday, July 9.”

On the front of his shirt are the words “We are not afraid,” on the back, “Don’t shoot just filming.” The shirts are worn by the Southeast Accountability Unit. Abdul-Hafeez regularly films police stops with the unit as part of its mission to hold police accountable and help prevent violence. They also assist community members to file complaints against the police.

He was wearing his neon yellow cop watcher vest early Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Chase bank in downtown San Diego when he heard gunshots.

He said he headed to grab his phone, which was charging in his car, so he could record the police who showed up shortly after and began detaining people in the parking lot.

But then the police stopped him.

“The police came back with guns,” Abdul-Hafeez said, “and told me to get on the f–ing ground. I got on the ground and they immediately jumped on top of me.”

SDPD Lieutenant Adam Sharki told KPBS that officers detained Abdul-Hafeez as a “possible gunman” after he “walked away.” Sharki encouraged anyone with information on the shooting — which injured one woman inside her nearby car — to contact Crime Stoppers.

Video recorded by a bystander and shared with KPBS shows four police officers surrounding Abdul-Hafeez, who is lying on the ground. He repeatedly asks why he’s being detained and with what he’s being charged.

The phone pans away but stays recording. Abdul-Hafeez said officers did not answer his questions, but used increasing force.

“They began striking me,” he said, “digging their nails inside my skin, putting their body weight on my back, my neck. They handcuffed me real tight. I still got the scars right here. It was bleeding.”

Community organizer Tasha Williamson hold up one of the brightly colored vests worn by the Southeast San Diego Accountability Unit, July 11, 2023.
In the video you can hear Abdul screaming. He said the officers inflicted the worst injuries after he was already handcuffed and in the police car.

“They’re trying to pull my arms out of socket,” he said. “I already have my hands behind my back.”

Medical records from the Alvarado Hospital Medical Center after the arrest diagnosed him with a fractured shoulder, head injury and “assault.”

Police gave Abdul-Hafeez a ticket for resisting arrest.

Community organizer Tasha Williamson said that charge is regularly used to justify wrongful arrests without probable cause. She and others are calling for an investigation into the incident and for charges against the officers for excessive use of force and failure to intervene.

“They can end this by charging officers just as they charge community members,” Williamson said.

San Diego Police data show officers are much more likely to use force on Black San Diegans than white San Diegans.

At the press conference, Abdul-Hafeez pointed to the dark spot on his wrist he said was left from the handcuffs. He pulls up his pant leg to show his swollen calf.

“And I want you to understand that he is one of thousands,” Williamson said, “thousands of men that look like him that are dragged out of their cars without probable cause, that are pointed guns at their face.”

Racial Justice and Social Equity

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

DiegoK July 13, 2023 at 7:32 am

Let’s see the police body cam video.

When things look good for SDPD video is released promptly. When it doesn’t, we get crickets.


sealintheSelkirks July 14, 2023 at 9:44 am

There is so much of this on youtube that it is obviously systemic violence embedded in the descendants of the Runaway Slave Police culture. It’s everywhere, and it most certainly isn’t just ‘a few bad players.’ If that was the case these horrific videos would be the oddity not the norm.

Not much has seem to have changed since before the Civil War in some ways, has it? 150 years after the end of that we see this over and over and over. Except the technology of ‘enforcement’ being used. But the enforcers certainly don’t like the audio/video aspect of their technology much…unless they can use it for their own ends. Let us try to end the ‘qualified immunity’ aspect invented during the corrupt Nixon administration, shall we?



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