SAN JOSE (AP) — A civil rights group is calling for an independent probe into allegations of excessive and unfair police tactics on a Northern California man because he is Muslim.
The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Tuesday called for an internal affairs investigation into claims that Santa Clara Police Department officers acted improperly when they stormed Mohammad Moneeb’s home earlier this year and raided it in search of an allegedly stolen dash camera worth a few hundred dollars.
“Officers were allegedly looking for the missing camera yet they did such things as squeeze the toothpaste and roll out the deodorant,” Moneeb’s attorney Daniel Mayfield said in a statement.
Heavily armed officers stormed Moneeb’s front yard in March and used a battering ram to break into his house. They ransacked it looking for a camera valued at less than $400, which they never found.
Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said the department stands by its case, but declined to discuss specifics of the incident.
Clarke said Tuesday that the department is completely open to having a discussion with the council but needs to know specifically what they are requesting. “We need a complaint,” he said.
The anti-discrimination group claims the raid was based on a fear of Muslims among police. But they are hoping for resolution.
“(The police department) has been responsive because they too are concerned with how it will impact a community that they’ve worked really hard to build a relationship with. But they haven’t made any firm commitments,” Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Zahra Billoo said.
The clash began in February when Moneeb’s uncle crashed a car he had subleased from an unrelated car owner. The car was towed and the items inside removed.
When the car owner complained to police that it was Moneeb who had the camera, police showed up unannounced at his home late at night on Feb. 10 to interview him. Billoo said he was cooperative but kept the talk short because it was after midnight and he was under no obligation to talk as he had not been charged with a crime.
The raid occurred about six weeks later.
Moneeb was arrested and later charged with a felony count of receiving stolen property. The charge was later dropped. The camera was never located.
Before the incident, Moneeb, 26, was working as an officer with the Customs and Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security assigned to the Bay Area’s three major airports. Since the incident, he has been reassigned to a desk job, Billoo said.