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Attorney: Dearborn Heights Football Players Charged Because They Are Arab-American

posted on: Jan 29, 2012

The attorney for four Star International Academy football players, charged with assault and battery following a scuffle at an October high school game against Lutheran High, said he believes the players were criminally charged because they are Arab-American.

Farmington Hills attorney Nabih Ayad plans to ask Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy that the charges, all misdemeanors, be dropped.

Worthy said in a statement: “Our investigation in this case includes a videotape which captured the incident. After a review of the evidence, we have charged the people involved in this incident with the appropriate charges.”

Ayad said Tuesday that while he doesn’t excuse the actions of the four players from the Dearborn Heights school, he believes Dearborn Heights police did a “sloppy” job investigating the matter and were wrong to charge the teens when they were doing what a lot of student and professional athletes have done.

“After the play, they hit those kids … it was wrong, but it doesn’t rise to this level of criminal liability,” said Ayad during a news conference Tuesday at the Southfield office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.

The Prosecutor’s Office said ethnicity did not factor into the charges. “The policy of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is not to let race or ethnicity influence any of our charging decisions,” said spokeswoman Maria Miller. “The facts and the evidence are what guided us in the decision to charge the four football players with assault and battery.”

In the Oct. 21 incident, Star players are accused of kneeing players on the offensive line of the Westland school and the team’s quarterback.

In the police report, the quarterback for Lutheran was going to “take a knee” on the snap of the last play of the game. Lutheran won the game, 48-6.

According to the report, after the ball was snapped, Star players “attacked and assaulted” the Lutheran player, who said he was picked up by two Star players and “body slammed” to the ground.

“They then kicked him in the head, kicked him in the chest and twisted off his helmet,” according to the police report released to The Detroit News on Tuesday.

The Lutheran player lost consciousness, suffered minor abrasions to his face, neck and chest and was transported to a nearby hospital, the police report said. The teens charged were all minors at the time of the incident.

CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid and Rashid Baydoun, the executive director of the Arab-American Civil Rights League, were joined at the conference by Aaron Sims, the director of the NAACP’s Western Wayne County branch.

The students were suspended from school for two days and two or three games each. Ayad said the school and game suspensions should have been enough.”Yes, the students should be punished, but there is protocol against such actions,” said Baydoun.

Efforts to reach officials for Lutheran High and Dearborn Heights police were unsuccessful. The teens are due back in court Feb. 29. If convicted, they face a maximum of 90 days in jail and $500 fine.

Orlandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News