In 2013, 16-year-old Kimani Gray was killed when two plainclothes New York Police officers shot him seven times. Police claimed Gray had a gun, though witnesses disagreed with the officers’ story.
The two police involved in the shooting, Sgt. Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova, have not faced any charges as a result of the shooting. One has, however, stayed on his department’s radar: Mourad was originally named to receive “Cop of the Year” this Thursday by the NYPD Muslim Officers Society. But due to community pressure, Mourad refused the award and did not attend the ceremony.
A spokesperson for the Muslim Officers Society could not immediately be reached for comment.
“He’s done a lot of work taking down criminals and taking a lot of guns and drugs off the street,” Lt. Adeel Rana told the New York Daily News on why he was originally chosen for the award. Mourad had also been honored by the department in 2011 with an award for outstanding police work.
Gray’s family and their supporters were outraged by the group’s choice. “It’s an insult to the family and the community,” Former city council member Charles Barron, one of the Grays’ closest allies, told New York’s Amsterdam News. “There has been a pattern in the Police Department to reward cops who killed our Black youth.”
In a letter calling for the NYPD Muslim Officers Society to rescind their decision, organizers with the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition wrote, “we find it unconscionable that he would be considered for an award. 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.”
Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York Linda Sarsour said the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition contacted both the Muslim Officers Society and Sgt. Mourad himself in protest of the award. “We have worked too long and too hard to build bridges between us and other communities in New York City who are impacted by NYPD abusive policies,” Sarsour said in an email, “and we’re not going to allow the Society to destroy these coalitions.” Sgt. Mourad sent an official letter of declination that was read aloud at Thursday’s award ceremony.
Mourad has been on the force in both Staten Island and Brooklyn for nine years. In the aftermath of the shooting, the New York Daily News discovered he’d been named in three other civil rights lawsuits against the force. The allegations in the lawsuits include wrongful arrests, illegal stops, and the unnecessary use of force. In total, the lawsuits have cost the department $215,000 in settlements.
Mourad was briefly put on administrative duties after the shooting while the NYPD performed an internal investigation. He has not faced any charges, and Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has yet to decide whether his office will move forward with the case. The Gray family has taken action by filing their own lawsuit against Mourad, Cordova and the NYPD this April.
The day after Mourad was supposed to receive the award, and two days before Mothers Day, Carol Gray and the mothers of others killed by the NYPD rallied in New York to honor their children and protest police brutality. Protesters were specifically calling for a federal investigation into the death of Ramarley Graham, 18, who was killed two years ago when a cop chased him into his home.
“We have many, many victims that have fallen in the hands of those that were supposed to protect and serve,” said Kadiatou Diallo, whose son Amadou was killed by New York cops in 1999. “Please, let the Justice Department hear our voices. Mother’s Day is coming.”