Family accuses police of excessive force

July 9, 2010 8:31:42 PM PDT
The chief of police for Hedwig Village is apologizing to a family for what happened to them at the hands of his officers, but the family says it'll take more than an apology to make up for the incident. Umar and Aamir Ibrahim are normal teenage boys who had a rather unusual encounter with police.

"He flung open the car door and said get the hell out of the car, pushed me onto the ground," Umar Ibrahim said.

The boys were heading out of town on a cruise; their grandmother was meeting their mother at a shopping center off I-10 to drop them off.

As they transferred bags into their mother's car, a nearby police spotter and other undercover officers carrying out a sting operation saw what they thought was a pair of car burglars.

"It's a common tactic for car burglars to back into a parking spot, sit for a few minutes, get out and hit a car really close to them, then get in the car and leave," Hedwig Police Chief Dave Barber said.

But when the boys did leave with their mother, their car was boxed in at a red light by Hedwig police. They boys say they were pulled from the car, forced onto the ground with guns to the back of their heads.

"I was on the ground, and I've never had a gun drawn on me, and I was really scared," Umar Ibrahim said. "Then I saw my mom, and she was distraught too."

Barber says the officers thought they were dealing with criminals and had to act accordingly.

"You never know what you have," Barber said. "Look at the number of officers who walk up to someone they stopped for a red light or an inspection sticker, and they're shot and left on the side of the road."

Chief Barber says once the officers realized the boys weren't thieves, they quickly apologized.

But the boys' father, Munir Ibrahim, thinks the officers used excessive force.

"Absolutely," he said.

The apology is not good enough for him.

"I would like to see this police department review their policies," he said. "This could result in loss of life, and I think that they need to take a look at that."

Or for the teens who were mistakenly treated like criminals.

"I've lost confidence in our police forces here in the Villages," Aamir Ibrahim said.

The family says they plan to launch a formal complaint against the police department. Meanwhile, the police chief told me they are opening their own internal investigation.


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