Hamtramck dog attack victim says discrimination reason Wayne County prosecutor won’t charge police officer

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2012/07/hamtramck_dog_attack_victim_sa.html

Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 4:44 PM     Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 5:53 PM
 
HAMTRAMCK, MI — A pin juts from the crushed bone below a white bandage wrapped around 78-year-old Qaflah Samaha’s right arm.

Three months after Samaha of Hamtramck claims a Cane Corso leaped over a fence, mauled and nearly killed her, she has not entirely healed.

The dog’s owner, Hamtramck Police Officer Michael Stout, has never been charged with a crime related to the attack, which has “outraged” the Arab-American community, according to Samaha’s attorney, Nabih H. Ayad, who is calling for state Attorney General Bill Schuette to launch an investigation into discrimination by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office.

He believes the officer should be charged with a felony under the state’s Dangerous Animals Ordinance, which carries a punishment of up to four years in prison and a $2,000 fine. 

“Here’s a 78-year-old woman, there’s numerous, numerous laws that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has at its disposal,” Ayad said during a press conference Wednesday in the Arab-American Civil Rights League office in Dearborn. “We think that this is outrageous, its ridiculous, it smacks this community right in the face.”

Qaflah Samaha, 78, of Hamtramck wants the Hamtramck police officer who owned the Cane Corso that attacked her on April 21 to be charged with a crime.

Ayad believes the Prosecutor’s Office is “protecting one of their own” and said the community “wants answers” as to why the office refuses to press charges, why “police officers are above the law.”

State police investigated the incident and issued a recommendation for charges to be issued, but the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, after conducting an independent investigation of it’s own, declined to follow the state police conclusion.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office issued a response to the concerns presented by the Arab-American Civil Rights League stating it “conducted an independent investigation of the facts and evidence” that “revealed that the dog was inside Officer Stout’s backyard at the time of the incident” and it is undetermined whether Samaha “trespassed on to the property” or “provoked of the dog leading up to the attack.”

“I’m surprised they would have the courage to take that position,” said Steven Ogilvie, Ayad’s partner, after hearing the response from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Samaha spent a total of five weeks in  the hospital and intensive care after the attack, including a three-week return visit after Samaha developed a blood clot that nearly caused a heart attack. 

Qaflah Samaha’s right hand after she was attacked by a Cane Corso on April 21.

The dog also tore Samaha’s right index finger from her hand. Doctors were unable to reattach it.

According to Ayad, Stout has not offered an apology or offered to pay any of Samaha’s medical expenses

Attorneys for Samaha said the Cane Corso remains in law enforcement custody, it’s not been determined if it will be euthanized and copies of the state police and Hamtramck police reports have not been released.

Dressed in traditional Muslim clothing, Samaha, of Yemen, who is 5-feet 1-inch tall and 100 pounds, sat next to her son, Wadah Fadel, 29, of Hamtramck, who acted as her translator Wednesday.

Before them on a long table lay numerous pictures, several of a stabilization bar inserted through Samah’s stitched hand to hold in place the bones crushed by the dog’s powerful jaws; another depicted a menacing looking black Cane Corso walking in the snow — not Stout’s — with hulking shoulders, described as “something out of a horror movie,” by Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 

Samaha said she was attacked on April 21 while walking down an alley behind Stout’s home on Dorothy. 

The Cane Corso jumped onto a 4-foot-high dog house and over the 6-foot-high fence, Samaha’s attorney said.

“He went for her jugular,” Ayad said, adding that Stout also kept a pit bull and Doberman Pinscher in the fenced yard.

To illustrate a pattern of discrimination by the prosecutor’s office against the Arab-American community, Ayad noted a separate case in which the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office charged four Dearborn Heights High School football players with assault after an on-field fight.

“This was the only case in this nation’s history” where kids were charged while playing football, Ayad said. “Yet, they fail to bring charges against a police officer, in essence protecting one of its own.”

Ayad said he plans to send a letter requesting an investigation to Schuette’s office as soon as tomorrow.

Independent of the request for criminal charges, Ayad said he intends to file a civil case related to the matter.

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