Phoenix approves $5M settlement after man killed in 2017 police arrest

A Nov. 17 hearing place over the killing of Muhammad Muhayin Jr., who died in Phoenix police custody back in 2017.

The Phoenix City Council approved a settlement for $5 million after Muhayin Jr.'s family filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit earlier this year.

The settlement was approved by a 7-2 vote.

Last year, body camera footage revealed Muhayin being pinned by police to the ground yelling "I can't breathe" and "Please, Allah." 

The officer was seen responding, "He's not going to help you right now." Shortly afterward, Muhaymin died.

The lawsuit alleges that Phoenix officers used excessive force by putting their weight on Muhaymin, causing him to go into cardiac arrest and vomit, leading to his death.

Despite demands for justice, no officers have been disciplined, and all of them still work for Phoenix Police.

A federal judge was set to decide the future of the lawsuit back in May, and court proceedings were sealed from the public.

Despite the settlement years later, Muhayin Jr.'s family still wants Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel to reopen the case and fire officers involved.

"There is a sense of relief, the family is relieved that the lawsuit itself is over," says David Chami, civil rights attorney for Price Law Group who represents the family. "This was never really about the money. It was always about justice and accountability."

Officers had been called over a dispute about Muhayin Jr. bringing his service dog into a bathroom at the Maryvale Community Center because he was homeless at the time. It was discovered he had a warrant for failing to appear in court.

Vice Mayor, Carlos Garcia, representing council district 8, says, "In order to care for all the constituents, we need to provide housing and behavioral and mental health resources and other programs instead of only turning to enforcement."

Chami says he's disappointed in the 7-2 vote.

"I’m disappointed it was 7-2. I would have loved to see all 9 members acknowledge that the settlement was in the best interest of the city and was the right thing to do in my opinion," he said.

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