The NYPD Muslim Officers Society has raised eyebrows after awarding its 'Cop of the Year' honors to a police officer involved in an active investigation into the killing of a local teenager.
Sgt. Mourad Mourad is under an internal investigation for the death of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, who was shot multiple times in a March 2013 confrontation with NYPD officers in Brooklyn.
According to the officers involved in the shooting, the teenager adjusted his belt "suspiciously," and after they exited their vehicle to investigate, he pointed a .357 caliber revolver at them. Both officers fired a total of 11 shots at the suspect, hitting Gray multiple times in his torso and legs. Witnesses said that Gray, who was running for his life when he was shot, did not have a gun.
Mourad was due to be honored by the NYPD Muslim Officers Society last Thursday for his active police work, the New York Daily News reported. The sergeant is an Egyptian immigrant who has been on the force for nine years. The society of Muslim members of New York’s Bravest has 600 members.
Lt. Adeel Rana, a member of the group, told the Daily News in April that the
shooting doesn’t define Mourad’s career.
“It is not the whole picture,” Rana said. “He’s done a lot of work taking down criminals and taking a lot of guns and drugs off the street.”
Another police officer noted that it was not a good idea for Mourad to accept the award while the investigation is still open.
“To accept an award right now before the District Attorney’s office moves forward and closes the case would not be in the best interest of the public, the department, or in some ways [Mourad] himself,” said Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, told the Daily News.
The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition had urged the NYPD Muslim Officers Society to rescind its invitation, though the group declined the request.
"In light of the serious issues surrounding Sergeant Mourad, we find it unconscionable that he would be considered for an award," the MACLC letter read. "Furthermore, the Muslim community is a community that stands up for the civil rights of others and is sensitive to the plight of marginalized communities who suffer the abuses of the NYPD."
“It’s an insult to the family and the community,” former city council member Charles Barron, who is close to the Gray family, told New York’s Amsterdam News. “There has been a pattern in the Police Department to reward cops who killed our Black youth.”
Mourad refused the honor days before the annual awards ceremony would have taken place. He sent an official letter declining the award that was read at the ceremony, Think Progress reports.
Gray’s family filed a lawsuit in April against the NYPD, Mourad and his partner, Officer Jovaniel Cordova, who was also involved in the shooting that sparked a week of riots in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Both Mourad and Cordova were the targets of five federal lawsuits prior to the shooting, Gothamist reported at the time. The plaintiffs in those cases alleged civil rights violations, and reportedly cost the city $215,000 in court settlements. Mourad was named in one suit in 2009 and twice in 2010, while Cordova was sued once each in 2011 and 2012.