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Prosecutors: No criminal charges for Mich. officer in fatal police station shooting

Video shows Ali Naji enter the station lobby, remove a gun from his pocket, point it at the officer and pull the trigger

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City of Dearborn/YouTube

By George Hunter
The Detroit News

DEARBORN, Mich. — Wayne County prosecutors on Thursday said they will not seek criminal charges in connection with 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 pointing a pistol at officers.

Following the prosecutor’s announcement, Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin released video of the shooting, along with a videotaped statement in which he called the incident “a tragedy for our entire community, including an officer who faced down 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 pilfering the 9mm pistol, he’s shown arriving at the police station on Michigan Ave. and pulling his black SUV into a no-parking zone near the entrance.

“That same afternoon, the Dearborn police station lobby 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 that was taking place in the lobby,” Shahin said.

The video shows a masked Naji, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, walking up to the bullet-resistant acrylic partition. The desk officer says, “How you doing?”

Naji is shown pulling a pistol from his right coat pocket and pointing it at the officer. He pulls the trigger, but the gun doesn’t fire, so he discharges the magazine and tries to reinsert it.

The officer is heard yelling “gun, gun, gun, gun” multiple times.

“At this point, the officer recognizes that the subject poses an immediate lethal threat to not only to himself but others who may be in or around the public lobby,” Shahin said. “Acting on his duty to confront the lethal threat, the officer slides open the glass and fires several rounds at the subject.”

The officer fired 17 rounds in 4.5 seconds, the chief said, adding that he “acted in accordance with departmental training and guidelines on confronting lethal threats.”

The chief added that the acrylic partition surrounding the front desk was “bullet-resistant but not bulletproof.”

An ambulance arrived within seven minutes, and emergency medical technicians performed first aid on Naji before rushing 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.

“Although 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 Thursday press release.

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 wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officer involved in the shooting. According to the suit, Naji was a lifelong Dearborn resident and a former barber. He had recently gotten married, and his wife was pregnant, the suit said.

Amir Makled, attorney for the Naji family, said he met Thursday with police officials who alerted him they’d be releasing the video.

“This is a tragic incident for all parties involved,” Makled said. “That’s really all there is to say.”

Worthy said investigators couldn’t determine Naji’s motive.

“We may never know why Mr. Naji walked into the Dearborn Police Department with a loaded weapon attempting to fire it at a police officer,” Worthy said. “Mr. Naji had a known history of mental health issues; this shooting incident may have been the result of a mental health episode.”

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