By George Hunter
DEARBORN, Mich. – Wayne County prosecutors said Thursday they will not seek criminal charges in the Dec. 18 fatal shooting of a 31-year-old mentally ill man who was killed by a Dearborn police officer after walking into the city’s police. station lobby and points a gun at the officers.
After the prosecutor’s announcement, Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin released a video of the shooting along with a videotaped statement calling the incident “a tragedy for our entire community, including an officer who faced an imminent threat to his life.”
The video shows Ali Naji stealing a gun from a drawer in a salon where he used to work, the chief said. Within 10 minutes of stealing the 9mm handgun, he is shown arriving at the police station on Michigan Ave. and pulls his black SUV into a no-parking zone near the entrance.
“That afternoon, the lobby of the Dearborn Police Department was busy with foot traffic from residents, including families, due to the holiday events in the immediate vicinity, as well as a holiday toy drive taking place in the lobby,” Shahin said.
The video shows a masked Naji, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, walking up to the bulletproof acrylic partition. The receptionist says, “How are you?”
Naji is shown pulling a gun from his right coat pocket and pointing it at the officer. He pulls the trigger, but the gun doesn’t fire, so he empties the magazine and tries to reload.
The officer is heard yelling “gun, gun, gun, gun” several times.
“At this point, the officer recognizes that the subject poses an immediate lethal threat to not only himself, but others who may be in or around the public lobby,” Shahin said. “Acting on his duty to confront the deadly threat, the officer opens the glass and fires several shots at the subject.”
The officer fired 17 shots in 4.5 seconds, the chief said, adding that he “acted in accordance with department training and guidelines for confronting lethal threats.”
The chief added that the acrylic partition wall around the front desk was “bulletproof, but not bulletproof.”
An ambulance arrived within seven minutes and emergency medical technicians performed first aid on Naji before taking him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Shahin said.
Michigan State Police investigated the shooting and found no wrongdoing by the officer, prosecutors said.
“While extremely tragic, this is a clear case where the officer acted in lawful self-defense and in the defense of others,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a news release Thursday.
Shahin said Naji’s relatives were allowed to review the video footage before it was released to the public.
Earlier this month, Naji’s family filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the city and the officer involved in the shooting. According to the suit, Naji was a lifelong resident of Dearborn and a former barber. He had recently married and his wife was pregnant, the suit said.
Amir Makled, a lawyer for the Naji family, said he met with police officers on Thursday who warned him they would release the video.
“This is a tragic incident for all parties involved,” Makled said. “That’s really all there is to say.”
Worthy said investigators could not determine Naji’s motive.
“We may never know why Mr. Naji walked into the Dearborn Police Department with a loaded weapon and attempted to fire it at a police officer,” Worthy said. “Mr. Naji had a known history of mental health issues; this shooting may have been the result of a mental health episode.”
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