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Updated: 7:58 p.m. Monday, May 19, 2014 | Posted: 3:55 p.m. Monday, May 19, 2014

Man says Clayton police roughed him up for entering his own home

Police thought he was lying to them and tried to arrest him



By Marcus K. Garner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Clayton County man has filed a formal complaint against Clayton police for injuries he says he received when police shoved him face-first into the brick wall of his home.

An officer thinking Dhoruba Bin-Wahad was a burglar who was lying about the presence of a fellow burglar in the house tried to arrest him as he moved into the house he’d just rented.

Video of the May 2 incident taken from a neighbor’s cell phone shows police officers forcefully pulling Bin-Wahad from a seated position on his front porch, pushing him up against the wall, then forcing him onto the ground with one arm behind his back.

He can be seen hitting the wall about two minutes into the video.

Bin-Wahad said he told police he was moving into the home he had just rented in the 300 block of Downing Court near Jonesboro when the incident happened.

He said he suffered head and neck injuries, and police called to the home on a burglary report eventually determined that Bin-Wahad lived at the once-abandoned home.

According to Clayton County Police incident reports obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, officers tried to arrest Bin-Wahad after he told them no one was in the home and they thought they saw someone.

“Bin-Wahad was detained due to him stating that no one was inside of the residence and officers on-scene advising otherwise,” Clayton County Police Officer R. Hall said in his supplemental incident report.

Police didn’t find anyone else inside the house, according to the reports.

“I was humiliated,” he told reporters on Monday at a press conference with his attorney Robert Bozeman. “At first, I didn’t want to move into my home. I didn’t want neighbors thinking I was some kind of criminal moving into the neighborhood.”

Eventually, however, he said he relented and took occupancy of the home despite the incident.

“Several neighbors said they would write statements or testify to what they saw,” Bin-Wahad said.

Clayton County Police spokesman Officer Ron Coloma confirmed via e-mail Monday they had received the complaint. He said the agency’s internal affairs unit will investigate. “The police department investigates all complaints objectively and seriously, especially any which relate to police misconduct or abuse of authority.”

Police were called to the home around noon on May 2.

According to the original police incident report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a resident at a neighboring home told police that the home had just been remodeled and that she had never seen Bin-Wahad before.

The witness lived behind the home where Bin-Wahad was moving, and told police that she believed that he was a “pervert trying to look at her or her children from the vacant location through the woods,” the report says.

At least four officers responded to the call, police said.

One officer went to the rear of the home and an officer was at the front of the home. Initially, a third officer is seen in the video approaching the yard with his gun drawn. A fourth officer would eventually arrive on the scene, allowing one of the officers at the home to go inside.

Bin-Wahad had parked his SUV in the back yard and said he saw the officers walking around through the window.

“I assumed that they were pursuing someone on foot that had fled through my yard, and I was unaware of it,” he said. “I thought that that’s why they had their guns drawn and that’s why they were surrounding my house. I didn’t think that they were coming for me.”

Police said he tapped on one of the upstairs windows and an officer told him to come downstairs.

“When I came out of the house, the first thing I said was that ‘I’m moving in … I have the key,’” Bin-Wahad said. “They asked me why was my car in the back. I said, ‘It’s my house. I was loading boxes.’”

He told officers his ID was in his truck.

Three of the officers’ reports, including Hall’s, characterized Bin-Wahad as being noncompliant with their orders and abrasive.

“He was uncooperative and verbally argumentative,” Hall said in his supplemental report. “I observed Bin-Wahad take a bladed stance with his right side of his body away from Officer Washington while speaking to him.

“Believing Bin-Wahad was a possible flight risk, I gained control of his left wrist by holding on to his left wrist with my left hand.”

Officer B. Washington said Bin-Wahad initially refused to sit down on the porch when instructed, and told them no one else was in the home when asked.

Washington went inside the home to check it out. One of the officers in the backyard, Hall’s partner Officer M. Dunn then said he thought he saw another person inside the home and announced what he saw over the radio, according to police reports.

Hall was standing over a now-seated Bin-Wahad, according to his own report, said he heard the radio announcement then grabbed Bin-Wahad’s wrist again.

“Bin-Wahad began pulling away from me standing up and struggling,” Hall said in the report. “… Bin-Wahad was taken to the ground. Bin-Wahad’s left shoulder and head hit the brick wall of the residence.”

Hall handcuffed Bin-Wahad and later said in the report that he did so because he thought Bin-Wahad had lied.

Dunn acknowledged that the person he reported seeing inside the home was in fact another officer, according to the reports.

“I observed a black male wearing a black in color shirt come to the rear window, and then turn and run back toward the front of the residence on the top floor,” Dunn said in the incident report. “While searching the location, Officer Washington advised me that it might have been him that I saw at the above-mentioned window.”

Bin-Wahad was not arrested or charged in connection with the incident.

Bozeman said his offices investigated the incident and found a neighbor who had made the video.

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