Where authorities see an assault, Muslim civic leaders see an attack with all the markings of a hate crime. They hope to persuade police and federal agents to continue investigating the shooting of Fazliddin Yakubov.
On Monday, Cleveland police announced they had charged William Neal, 18, of Cleveland, with felonious assault in the shooting of the Uzbecki immigrant June 20 as he stood near a gas pump at East 76th Street and Superior Avenue.
Yakubov, a 49-year-old father of three, nearly bled to death and remains on life support systems at MetroHealth Medical Center.
Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland office of the Council on American Islamic Relations, argues someone is guilty of at least attempted murder and that several people were part of a brief conspiracy to kill Yakubov because of his cultural background. She lists CAIR's arguments:
Video surveillance shows Yakubov minding his own business when he was shot without warning. He was not robbed. He appeared foreign.
Moments before the shooting, Yakubov and his son, Farhad, were speaking in their native Uz becki. Over hearing them, a group of young men began to mimic some of the gut tural sounds of Arabic, according to Farhad Yakubov.
While not Arab, the Yakubovs share the dark complexions of many Arab immigrants.
Representatives of Cleveland police and the FBI say they cannot prove the suspect was motivated by the race or ethnic background of the victim, which would trigger federal hate crime statutes. But they also hint at more charges coming.
"We're not nearly complete with this case," said Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Cleveland office of the FBI. (MORE)