July 01, 2013 — Abdul Salaam was profiled by two Baltimore Police officers from the Special Enforcement Section, an undercover unit formerly known as the Violent Crimes Impact Section — renamed (or according to Police Commissioner Anthony Batts “dismantled”) after a series of controversial incidents involving officers in the unit.
Salaam was pulling up to his home when the unmarked Baltimore police vehicle turned on its lights behind him. The officers inside — Nicholas Chapman and Jorge Ruiz — immediately approached the vehicle and attempted to remove Salaam from his seat by force. From the point in which he was stopped until the point he was placed in the “paddy-wagon,” the officers had violated his rights on various levels: being pulled-over without reasonable suspicion, being searched without consent or probable-cause, demonstrating excessive force, both before and after cuffs had been applied, on both his hands and legs.
The entire incident was witnessed by over a dozen witnesses, from youth to elderly who were out front of their homes when the police initiated the stop. Many of the witnesses recorded the incident, the content in this video is only from one.
According to documents, the officers said they pulled Salaam over because he did not have his seat-belt on, however Salaam asserts that he did and that in fact when the officers initially attempted to remove him from his vehicle by force, he was being held back by his seat-belt.
Even if it were a seat-belt violation, it does not give the officers any excuse to ask to search his vehicle.
The officers did not find anything illegal after they themselves illegally searched Salaam’s vehicle.
All charges on Abdul Salaam were dropped later.
However no actions were taken against any of the officers involved. In fact, little over two weeks later, two of the officers mentioned above — Nicholas Chapman and Jorge Ruiz — were involved in another similar incident.
On July 18, 2013, Chapman and Ruiz — who should have been on administrative-leave — were driving around in another residential neighborhood nearby, this time pulling over a man named Tyrone West.
According to Police, the officers initiated the stop because West had conducted an illegal maneuver and then was driving suspiciously slow — (in a residential neighborhood, with stop signs every block). According to Chapman and Ruiz, they approached the vehicle and asked for permission to search the vehicle, to which the driver and passenger consented (again, with no reasonable suspicion).
However according to neighbors who witnessed the incident, the officers immediately approached the vehicle and pulled West out by his dreadlocks — a scene that sounds very similar to the one that had unfolded little over two weeks prior.
According to witnesses, West was attempting to defend himself from aggressive officers who had gone beyond the point of their authority. By the end of the encounter, at least ten Baltimore police officers stood around a motionless body that they had beaten to death.
The Baltimore Sun has been aware of Salaam’s experience since November, and has even bee in possession of official documents regarding his case since mid-January of 2014, but has yet to publish anything regarding Salaam — or the connection he has with West.
More to come…