Abdulahi Mohamad has been active in his Edmonton community since he was first arrested, strip searched and held following a mischievous complaint from his ex-wife. Aspects of this scandalous episode are still in litigation. The police continue to defend their secret procedures and continue to claim it is "policy" for Mr. Mahamad's name to remain on the CPIC as someone charged with a sex offence.
EDMONTON - Abdulahi Mahamad and Susan Kolbowicz were in the kitchen of their Groat Estates home on March 19 making a cake for their five-year-old son's birthday when there was a knock on the door. Within minutes, Mahamad was handcuffed and five Edmonton police tactical team members, in full combat gear and with guns drawn, were swarming through the house along with two plainclothes detectives.
Mahamad and Kolbowicz are now suing the Edmonton Police Service for more than $175,000 for what their claim states was the unnecessary, forcible entry of their home, for trespass, assault and battery, and for the mental anguish, humiliation and emotional upset of being handcuffed in front of friends and neighbours. None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven.
A police spokesman said the police have not yet been served. In an interview, Mahamad said he and his wife decided to sue after he received an explanation for the raid from the police that caused them to conclude it was unjustified.
"It was overkill," said Mahamad."I am president of the Westmount Community League, I have no criminal record, my wife has no criminal record. Why did they need to send the tactical team with their guns drawn?"
The explanation Mahamad said he received from police is that his brother-in-law, David Kolbowicz, had been communicating over the Internet with a California woman. David had moved to Edmonton from Vancouver and was living with Mahamad and Susan Kolbowicz while he sought work.
The California woman had apparently become emotionally unstable and threatened to hurt her child, whom she had abducted. California police found David's Edmonton phone number on the woman's computer, and contacted the RCMP. The RCMP contacted Edmonton police, which in turn dispatched a tactical team.
Mahamad said the police told him they were within their rights to immediately enter his home because the woman's child was in imminent danger. But Mahamad said there was no evidence the woman was ever in Edmonton or even in Canada. A car registered in her name was found at the Vancouver airport but there is no evidence she drove it there.
Mahamad said David Kolbowicz had not spoken to, or e-mailed the woman since he left Vancouver for Edmonton in December 2003. In fact, about five days after the incident in Edmonton, the woman was arrested with her child in Florida.
Given all this, Mahamad said the police rationale for forcibly entering his home with guns drawn makes no sense.
He has a number of questions police have not answered: If police had a hunch the apparently armed and dangerous woman was at his home, why wouldn't they have conducted any sort of risk assessment or surveillance before they showed up at his door? If this woman was as dangerous as police believed, why were they apparently not concerned for the safety of Mahamad, his wife and their two young children?
He said police told him they were unaware there were other children in the home.
And again, if there was a safety concern, why did police first send a civilian social worker to the door?
Mahamad said putting a civilian in the middle of a potentially dangerous situation can't be part of a tactical team's protocol.
"So I'm supposed to believe that police thought there was a dangerous woman with a gun in my home and I'm harbouring her, and yet they deal with it by sending a social worker to my door? That's just scary if it's true."
Mahamad said he decided to sue, rather than simply file a complaint, because the police refused to apologize.
"I asked them point blank, while they were in my kitchen, to apologize and they said they had nothing to apologize for."
From what he has read in the media, he also doesn't trust Edmonton police to properly investigate its own officers."I don't think they would get to the bottom of it," he said.