Councilman to bar: ‘Let them die’

By Charles Sercombe

When it comes to the patrons of the Shadow Bar who get into fights and shootings, City Councilmember Mohammed Hassan has this solution for police officers called to respond:

“Let them die. Let them die.”

That’s what Hassan said in a recording made by police officers responding to a home break-in that occurred on the night of Jan. 1.

Hassan was apparently upset over how long it took officers to come to the house. Officers told Hassan that the city’s four police officers on duty were tied up at the bar because of a disturbance there.

His comment was picked up by local media outlets.

That quote and his complaints in a recent council meeting about the quality of service from the police and fire departments raises a series of questions:

Does Hassan really think that human life is worth less than stolen property?

Does Hassan understand that the police staffing level is limited by contract and the city’s budget?

Does he understand that non-emergency police overtime has been eliminated per council directive – a directive he voted for?

Just where exactly does Hassan live?

Why would he insist on having his wife transported by ambulance to a Macomb County hospital when several Detroit hospitals are just minutes away?

Hassan’s entry into the media spotlight started with comments he made at last Tuesdays’ council meeting. In a lengthy discussion about whether to apply for a state loan to stave off the city going financially broke, Hassan criticized the service of the police and fire departments and their costs.

He argued against applying for a state loan because the money would end up in the pockets of police officers and firefighters. He added that they have “luxurious” contracts the city can’t afford.

In what could be described as a rant, Hassan spoke of two separate incidents. The first involved a call he made recently for an ambulance. He said his wife was feeling discomfort and asked for an ambulance, but the Fire Department’s ambulance was tied up in a call.

Three private ambulance service companies were also tied up in calls. The Fire Department, however, sent firefighters in a fire truck to Hassan’s house. Hassan said firefighters examined his wife and determined that she was not in a life-threatening condition.

Hassan had also insisted that an ambulance take his wife to St. John’s Hospital in Macomb County, but he did not explain why in telling this story. Eventually, an ambulance crew arrived and upon examining Hassan’s wife, found her to have dangerously low blood pressure and possibly suffering from a stroke, he said.

According to Fire Chief Steve Paruk, the private ambulance that responded took Hassan’s wife to a Detroit hospital, not to St. John’s in Macomb County. Paruk said that firefighters offered to assist Hassan’s wife into Hassan’s car prior to the ambulance’s arrival if Hassan thought she needed immediate attention, but he declined.

The house that the ambulance was called to was across the street from the house Hassan has listed with the city as his official residence. It’s unclear if Hassan had moved since being elected to office.

As for the break-in incident, things become less clear.

At the council meeting, Hassan said a break-in happened at a house at Mackay and Carpenter. Police say the complainant in the incident is not Hassan, but Hassan was the one who talked with officers responding.

As soon as the officers arrived, Hassan demanded to know why it took them so long to respond and how many officers were working the shift.

He was told more than once that there were only four officers in two patrol cars on duty and that they were tied up at the Shadow Bar. He also questioned why officers could not take fingerprints.

An unidentified officer can be heard in the recording telling Hassan that he and his partner are not trained to take finger prints and that officers who are trained to do so could not be called to the scene because non-emergency overtime had been cancelled. The officer told Hassan to take up the matter with the City Council.

Hassan sarcastically commented at the council meeting that the officers were unaware that he was a councilmember.

Hassan voted with a majority of the council to cancel all non-emergency overtime a few weeks ago in an attempt to stem the city’s deficit spending.

The officer talking with Hassan advised him to collect any items that he thought might contain fingerprints and to bring them to the station.

Hassan again questioned where the officers had been, and when he was told officers have been having problems at the Shadow Bar with fights and shootings, he said, in a calm voice, about the bar patrons: “Let them die. Let them die.”

As an aside during his talk at the council meeting, Hassan said he owns a house in Warren, but he prefers to live in Hamtramck.

The union president of the Hamtramck police officers’ union, Jon Bondra, said Hassan’s comment raises a question about his ethics. He said the council’s ethics rules demand that elected and appointed officials “shall maintain the highest standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness in carrying out their public duties; avoid any improprieties in their roles as public servants including the appearance of impropriety…”

That requirement, Bondra said, seems to have been violated by Hassan.

“How can you be ethical if you want our officers to allow them to die at the Shadow Bar?” Bondra said.

A Review reporter went to Hassan’s house at 3423 Neibel for a comment. No one answered the door, and the house appeared to be vacant, with advertising circulars stuffed into the fence and strewn on the walk leading to the door.

However, Hassan pulled up near the house, and immediately asked what business The Review reporter had. Asked about the break-in, Hassan ordered the reporter to stop asking questions and that he would not comment.

After more discussion, Hassan turned back to his vehicle, parked on Mackay, and retrieved a plastic bag filled with items. He appeared to be walking to a house across the street from the house he has listed as his residence with the city.

He confronted the same reporter over why he was being photographed.

“Do you have a problem?” he asked the reporter.

The reporter: “No, do you?”

Hassan then walked over to the reporter, stood silent, then made a brief phone call and returned to his vehicle. But on returning to his vehicle, he turned around and claimed the reporter made a threat.

In a WXYZ Channel 7 interview, Hassan apologized for his comment about the Shadow Bar.

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