In November 2021, the Phoenix City Council approved a $5 million settlement to resolve the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the sister of Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin, a homeless man who died during a January 2017 struggle with Phoenix police officers.
Muhaymin was denied entry to a community center by a city employee. The employee claimed he denied entry to Muhaymin, who struggled with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because the deceased had a dog with him at the time he attempted to enter the community center.
Officers were called to the community center after Muhaymin refused to leave. Police officers attempted to arrest him because he had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court for a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge, according to the Associated Press.
Muhaymin, according to an unsealed filing, actively resisted arrest. During the ensuing struggle, Muhaymin complained that he could not breathe. Minutes later, Muhaymin went into cardiac arrest and died.
Attorneys representing the city of Phoenix said that Muhaymin exerted a tremendous amount of strength while resisting arrest and that toxicology reports revealed that Muhaymin had high levels of methamphetamines in his blood.
Video evidence of the altercation that was released by the Phoenix metro police showed an officer with his knee pressing down on Muhaymin’s head.
Despite the video evidence, none of the officers involved in the altercation has faced disciplinary action or criminal charges.
Phoenix police maintained that there was nothing interfering with Muhaymin’s ability to breathe.
An attorney representing Muhaymin’s sister in the lawsuit countered the assertion by saying, “The words ‘I can’t breathe’ do not mean you literally do not have air.”
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