PHOENIX — The family of a homeless man who died in Phoenix police custody in 2017 hopes the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigators will look specifically at his case.
Muhammad Muhaymin was stopped by police while he was trying to bring his dog, Chiquita, into a public restroom with him. The situation escalated when police realize the man, who was homeless and mentally ill, also had a warrant.
“He was tortured right in front of our eyes, right in, in a public place,” said Muhammad’s sister Mussallina Muhaymin.
“They killed him because they placed the weight of their bodies on him. He said he couldn't breathe, and they ignored those pleas,” said the family’s lawyer David Chami.
The Phoenix Police Department contends its officers did not use excessive force against Muhammad. The cops remained on the force and did not face criminal charges.
In April this year, Muhammad’s daughter, Amirah, wrote Joe Biden and the Department of Justice asking them to “re-open my dad’s case and take the officers’ badges away so they don't murder other dads."
“I think the department's response, which specifically addresses the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness, is an indication to me that, that they took her letter to heart,” Chami said.
Muhammad's sister says she was elated to hear the department of justice is taking an in-depth look at phoenix police's policies and practices.
“I would like them to know that coming in doing a thorough investigation, in weeding out these bad officers, so that they can eventually build a department that we can trust and believe in,” Mussallina Muhaymin said.
The Muhaymin family has an ongoing civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the City of Phoenix. The case is set for trial next March.