DETROIT – A Muslim civil rights group released crime scene photos Wednesday of the body of a mosque leader shot 20 times during an FBI raid — images the group's director says suggest the imam likely had to defend himself against a vicious dog attack before he was killed.
FBI agents were trying to arrest Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah on a variety of federal charges during a raid in October on a warehouse in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb. The FBI said Abdullah resisted arrest and fired a gun, prompting agents to fire on him. An FBI dog was killed during the raid.
Dawud Walid, who heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter, said three of the five photos his group released Wednesday show Abdullah sustained facial wounds he believes were from the dog. He said the large wounds were located on various parts of Abdullah's head, indicating they were inflicted while he was struggling.
"It appears to be obvious that the dog wasn't scraping on him or chewing on him when he was dead," said Walid, whose group is conducting its own investigation and sent the autopsy report and all 75 crime scene photos to an outside expert for review.
"We don't know if he had a weapon or not, but most people, if they're being mauled by a dog and they have a (gun), they're not going to think about whether they're going to be shot," Walid said. "Their imminent threat would be the dog."
The Associated Press has chosen not to distribute the photos due to their graphic nature.
Local and federal authorities are still investigating and have said little about what transpired the night of the raid.
An FBI spokeswoman, Sandra Berchtold, said Wednesday that the bureau would not be commenting until those investigations are completed. And Dearborn police Chief Ronald Haddad said in February that his department's investigation would take several more weeks. City spokeswoman Mary Laundroche said Wednesday that Haddad was on vacation and that she would try to reach someone else who could comment for the department.
Walid said CAIR was denied its request for any warehouse video surveillance footage of the clash and the results of the examination of the dog's body. He said CAIR has sent the crime scene photos and autopsy report to noted Pennsylvania pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht for review. The former Allegheny County medical examiner has conducted high-profile autopsies of Elvis Presley and slain child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.
In February, Wayne County's chief medical examiner, Dr. Carl Schmidt, released the autopsy report and said there was no distinct pattern to the facial wounds. He said he didn't know if they were dog bites.
Abdullah, who was also known as Christopher Thomas, was the imam of a small mosque in Detroit that served mostly black Muslims. The raid stemmed from an FBI investigation of Abdullah and 11 associates for various crimes, chief among them conspiracy to sell stolen goods. Abdullah's associates were arrested without incident.
The bureau accused Abdullah of spreading a radical anti-government ideology that called for an Islamic state within the U.S. His family and supporters deny those allegations and say the shooting of Abdullah was an act of brutality aimed at a black Muslim. The government was not considering terrorism-related charges against any of those tied to the case.
In addition to the police investigation, the shooting is being examined by the FBI's Inspection Division, which will send its findings to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
Walid said members of Michigan's various Muslim communities have raised concerns about what they regard as preferential treatment for the dog, which was airlifted for medical care and given a memorial service. Wherever he speaks, Walid said, "there's at least one person who said they treated a man like a dog and a dog like a man."
"Technically, that dog may have been a law enforcement officer, but that dog wasn't a human being who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States," Walid said. "It really has offended a lot of people's sensibilities."