By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The sister of Dearborn Heights resident Sam Beydoun, a paranoid schizophrenic, claims her brother was arrested and beaten while he was held at the Dearborn Heights Police Department.
During a Feb. 11 City Council meeting Beydoun’s sister, Samar Beydoun demanded structural changes from the top down in the police department and asked for answers and justice for her brother who won’t leave his house due to what happened.
Samar Beydoun also said it took one week for Sam Beydoun to leave the house and go to a hospital because he was afraid one of the officers was going to hurt him. She added that her brother’s head and neck are swollen.
Samar Beydoun said that on Feb. 3, Sam Beydoun was at city hall paying his taxes, and when he was on way out he wanted to speak to the mayor so his library rights could be reinstated because the librarians did not want to deal with him because he’s mentally ill.
“Why was my brother arrested in the first place at city hall,” she said. “He was waiting and asked by the mayor’s clerk to have a seat as she went to see if the mayor could speak to him. Moments later he gets approached and brutally attacked after he was asked to leave and did what they asked him to do.
“Why did my brother sit (in jail) for 69 hours and I called and I went there and I was given his house keys in my hands to go get his medication in which I did — why was he not given his medication? Why did he suffer almost two days with the jailers harassing him and throwing comments at him just to get him to react in jail.”
Police Deputy Chief Mark Myers told WXYZ Channel 7 that medication was dropped off for Sam Beydoun and administered, but wasn’t able to say exactly when.
Samar Beydoun claimed that her brother is known by police officers including former Police Chief Lee Gavin who was Sam Beydoun’s neighbor and has been harassing him for 10 to 12 years.
After Samar Beydoun posed the $200 bond, she said that no receipt was given to her and she questioned why there was no paper trail from her brother’s arrest.
Attorney Issa Fawaz, who is representing the family, said police severely and excessively abused Sam Beydoun and violated his due process guaranteed by the Fifth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
He also said it was troubling that Sam Beydoun is mentality disabled and the entire police department knows that.
“On February 3, Sam was arrested for reasons me, him and his family still do not know,” Fawaz said at the meeting.
Fawaz added that when he heard about the arrest he picked up Sam Beydoun without hesitation because he knows his condition and knows a holding cell with no medication surrounded by people he does not know is a terrible place for him.
“He told me the officers involved in the incident assaulted and tormented him while he was in custody,” Fawaz said. “He repeatedly complained about the severe pain in his neck and he was clutching in objective agony. It’s one thing for officers to exercise reasonable force to subdue uncooperative suspects but it’s a radically different scenario when multiple officers abused a defenseless and schizophrenic man.”
Fawaz asked for the official incident report, video footage from Feb. 3 to 6 be turned over, for the police department to give the public its policy on dealing with people with disabilities and what the Police Department has done to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Additional claims made by Fawaz included that Sam Beydoun was held in custody for 69 hours while police looked for something to charge him with; was not provided with his medicine for two days; police refused to release Sam Beydoun into the attorney’s custody and that they detained him with no explanation and planned to bring felony charges against him which haven’t been brought; and that Sam Beydoun was covered in bruises, scrapes, and in pain upon his release.
“Sam suffers from mental illness and he’s been diagnosed as a paranoia schizophrenia,” Fawaz said. “He is a father of two and brother of the community.”
Councilman Bill Bazzi said the city doesn’t have a safety commission and that he would like the mayor and administration to look into starting one as soon as possible due to the concerns, phone calls and emails from residents about this incident.
Myers thanked the residents who packed the council meeting concerned about the incident saying the Police Department needs to know how the public feels and what is important to them.
“Obviously this situation is very impactful to the residents here,” he said. “We want to do better, we want to help you out. I can’t really go into the particulars of the investigation being as there was an arrest made, but we are here and if there is a commission that wants to get started we’re more than willing to work with the community to help us become better to serve you better.”
Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton asked Myers about the protocol for when a complaint is filed about an allegation and training for handling people with disabilities or mental health issues.
“Our officers, just to get hired as a police officer with the city of Dearborn Heights go through a 16-week academy, we require a two-year degree or equivalent experience working as another police agency,” Myers said. “So, there’s a multitude of training that goes into there which part of that is covered in the academy itself.
“The officers go through a significant amount of in-service training that’s required by the state as well as additional training that they can put in for on their own so there’s a significant amount of training, and most of our officers have also chosen to utilize the aspect the city will pay for their education forward on to whatever university or college they’re going to get degrees and so forth.”
Myers also said the department has a policy in place and has recently begun an accreditation process with the Michigan Association of Chiefs and Police.
“We are revamping our rules and regulations which there is a policy specifically in there that addresses the ability to — or how to assess and try to ameliorate differences with people with mental health issues” he said. “The biggest problem with that, that we run into obviously is recognizing those individuals and being able to ascertain those potential deficiencies as they occur.”
He explained the process after a complaint is filed which starts with the filing, followed by an investigation and then how the complaint is handled differently based upon the degree of severity.
“There’s a different level of the way we handle things through an officer that’s involved in for example a fatal shooting as opposed to some type of allegation of assault or something of that nature,” Myers said.
Council Chairwoman Denise Malinowski-Maxwell advised the mayor to have the police chief start and investigation.
“We need to make sure everybody’s rights are respected and we will ensure you as a council that a fair and thorough investigation will be made by the proper authorities,” she said.
Mayor Daniel Paletko responded by saying the investigation already has been started.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])