A noted pathologist said today that the Muslim leader killed by federal agents was shot twice in the back, not once as earlier said by the Wayne County Medical Examiner.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, who has handled a number of high profile cases, also said that imām Luqman āmīn Abdullah — killed by FBI agents Oct. 28 in Dearborn — had bites and claw marks from an FBI dog used to arrest him. He concluded that Abdullah's jaw was fractured by a FBI dog.
Wecht was asked to do a pathologist report by the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has been calling for answers in the shooting death of Abdullah — the first religious leader to be killed in an encounter with federal agents since the Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas, in 1993. Wecht did a second autopsy in the Waco case and was involved in investigating the shooting death in New York City by police of Amadou Diallo and the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.
Wecht told the Free Press today that he questions why the Wayne County Medical Examiner did not conclude that Abdullah was bit or clawed by a dog.
“No questions the lacerations had to have been dog bites,” Wecht told the Free Press today. “I don't understand why he's holding back on this.”
Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt was not available to immediately comment.
Wecht said he's not biased in favor of the Muslim group, CAIR, that asked him to do the report.
“I'm no shill for them,” Wecht said. “I happen to be Jewish. I happen to be a strong supporter for the State of Israel. …I'm not speaking here as a pro-Islamic terrorist supporter … or anything like that. I'm not coming in here with a biased eye.”
Wecht said that it's unclear how Abdullah was shot twice in the back. It might have been that his body twisted around after being shot so many times, he said. And so it would not be accurate to say he was necessarily standing with his back toward the FBI agents during the two gunshots in his back, Wecht said.
The Muslim group said that Wecht's report raises questions about his death and how the FBI handled it. They released two photographs today that they said indicated Abdullah may have been moved from the shooting scene shortly after his death. In one photograph, Abdullah's body is shown in bloodied jeans, a row of LCD television sets behind him. TV sets were used by the FBI as part of an undercover sting operation involving Abdullah and his followers. The FBI was looking to arrest them on suspicion of dealing in stolen goods. Luqman's supporters say he was the victim of an undercover informant who acted as an agent provocateur.
“Was there contamination of the crime scene?” asked Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold said today that “as the official findings of the investigations have not been released, we can not comment.”
Walid and CAIR attorney Lena Masri presented the report at a news conference today, where Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality raised the question of whether Abdullah may have been acting in self-defense. FBI officials have said that Abdullah opened fire at a FBI police dog, killing it, after which they returned fire, striking him 21 times.
“It seems to be excessive force,” Wecht said. “I do have some questions as to the necessity of 21 gunshot wounds.”
Wecht said that Abdullah was not shot at close range.
Wecht said he was asked by CAIR to do the report. He said he charged CAIR half of his usual cost of $5,000 for such reports, but added he's OK if doesn't receive any payment, considering it a form of pro-bono work.
Wecht also raised questions as to how the FBI handled the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
He noted that emergency medical services were not called for Abdullah after he was shot, which he said should have been done.
Wecht also said that no one swabbed Abdullah's hands for gunpowder residue, which he said is standard procedure in such cases considering there are allegations Abdullah fired a gun.
Detroit FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena has defended how his agents acted in the case.