Family seeking "justice" after their son walked into police station and tried to shoot an officer at the front desk
Family seeking “justice” after their son walked into police station and tried to shoot an officer at the front desk

Dave Herndon

Press & Guide, Dearborn, Mich.


Dec. 19—A 33-year-old Dearborn man was shot and killed in the lobby of the Dearborn Police Department at about 3:30 p.m. Dec. 18. The investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

Neither the Michigan State Police, who is handling the investigation, nor the Dearborn Police have released much information, but the victim’s family is seeking justice for what they claim is a civil rights issue.

Police said that Ali Naji walked into the department, and pulled a 9 mm handgun from his pocket. He then aimed at a police officer and tried to fire it, but it malfunctioned. While trying to fix the gun, an officer, who’s name has not been released, then fired several rounds into Naji, killing him.

Both the police and Naji’s family have said he had a history of mental illness.

Dearborn man shot dead inside police department after allegedly trying to shoot officer

Michigan State Police were called in to investigate the situation, but released little to the public pending any formal reprimand or possible charges.

No one other than the gunman was harmed, police said.

“Today, a Dearborn officer woke up forever altered by the trauma of facing down an imminent threat to his life,” Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud said in a statement. “And today, a Dearborn family woke up grieving the loss of their loved one who suffered from mental illness. Their families will carry the weight of this tragedy for the rest of their lives.”

Hammoud said the mental health crisis needs to be better addressed.

“Since assuming office, nearly every major crisis within our city has been linked to unaddressed mental illness and access to a firearm,” he said. “There is no magic wand to wave. This can only be solved through policy action and greater investment in treatment, and we know the safest communities are those with the most resources to meet the basic needs of their residents. We cannot criminalize our way out of a mental health crisis. We need a public health approach that recognizes that investing in mental health access leads to greater safety in our communities.”

Prevention, he said, is the goal.

“Prevention demands collaboration between our healthcare systems, state and federal lawmakers, and local stakeholders,” Hammoud said. “Today, our officers and first responders are on the front lines, tasked with resolving mental health crises that should be our collective responsibility. Our first responders and our residents deserve better.”

MSP is overseeing the investigation. Detectives are reviewing video surveillance and interviewing witnesses. The weapon was recovered at the scene, police said.

“The motive of the suspect is unclear at this point,” MSP said in a statement on its Twitter page. “There is a history of mental illness.”

The gun had been reported stolen earlier in the day. That investigation is being handled by Dearborn Police.

A report will be submitted to the Wayne County prosecutor to review once the investigation is complete, police said. An autopsy is being done through the county medical examiner.

At least one of Naji’s attorney’s was at the medical examiner’s office Monday afternoon.

Naji’s family retained the law firm of Hall Makled for any potential legal action that comes from the investigation.

Amir Makled, a partner at the firm, said the situation didn’t have to end deadly.

“This is a tragic situation that could have been avoided had police de-escalation protocols been properly implemented,” Amir Makled We acknowledge that the police officer faced down the gun used by the victim and the danger that it posed to him and, potentially, others. However, officers are trained to and should be skilled at recognizing mental health crises. The deceased was not in a state to know right from wrong.”

Cyril Hall, another partner at the firm, said it was a clear civil rights violation.

“Let’s be clear: this is a civil rights case,” he said. “The victim’s civil rights were immediately violated when the police officer fired his gun without, apparently, any consideration to de-escalate the situation. The killing of our client’s loved one was unnecessary, and we believe the entire confrontation could have been brought to a non-lethal close.”

Jason Alley contributed to this report.


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