Mar. 21 – KGO – Strong reaction over an ABC7 News I-Team report about a Muslim teen prosecuted for a minor car accident. A civil liberties group says the Davis Police Department is guilty of discrimination and they want the case dropped. But not only is the Yolo County D.A. going forward with the case, it’s trying to silence the I-Team.
It all started with a minor fender bender. Two witnesses say they saw the SUV owned by Jamal Buzayan hit another car in a parking lot. Sixteen-year-old Halema Buzayan and her mother Najat were inside.
Buzayan says his wife was driving that day, but no one recalls a collision. He decides to put the matter to rest and writes a check to cover the damage anyway.
Jamal Buzayan, father of arrested teen: “And the lady came and took it on the tenth and cashed it and it was over with.”
But that was just the beginning. The Davis Police Department decided to investigate. They interview the Buzayans and conclude that their daughter Halema was driving the family SUV. Police show up at night to arrest the teenager, booking her in her pajamas while her parents look on.
Jamal Buzayan: “I was really scared of them because both had hand on gun.”
Halema Buzayan, arrested teen: “He takes my fingerprints and every time he pushes down, he pushed down really hard and he tells me, ‘tell the truth, tell the truth, that’s all you have to do,’ and he just seems so angry with me.”
The Yolo County District Attorney decided to prosecute. But their aggressive tactics are raising questions.
Dean Johnson, ABC7 legal analyst: “It’s really about whether the officer violated Halema’s civil rights in the larger sense of undertaking this investigation, prosecution and arrest because of her ethnic or religious background.”
Both the police chief and district attorney refused to be interviewed.
Now a civil liberties group is saying they went too far. The Council on American Islamic Relations is demanding Yolo County drop the charges.
Basim Elkarra, Council on American Islamic Relations: “The community is wondering why this is happening. Is this selective enforcement? Because, there are many other cases, many hit and run cases, that are never prosecuted so why go after this honor student?”