Muslim woman’s lawsuit against the sheriff’s office dismissed.

April 19, 2016
Dakroub

Dakroub

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART – A Muslim woman’s federal lawsuit that claimed Oceana County Sheriff’s Office deputies violated her constitutional rights last spring by forcing her to remove her headscarf during jail booking has been dismissed. The woman’s claim included many inaccurate statements, according to Oceana County Sheriff Robert Farber.

Fatme Mohamad Dakroub’s lawsuit against the county, the sheriff’s office, Sheriff Farber and three jail officers was dismissed, according to a filing Monday, April 18, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

The dismissal, which both parties agreed to, is final.

“The parties hereby agree and stipulate that all remaining claims against all parties are dismissed with prejudice and without cost to either party,” the court filing states, according to Mlive.com.

Farber said the allegations made in the complaint were not factual. “I’m glad the case was dismissed.”

Dakroub’s attorney, Nabih H. Ayad of Detroit, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday morning regarding the dismissal.

Dakroub, 35, is a U.S. citizen who is a Muslim and a resident of the United Arab Emirates.

In her complaint, she stated that as a religious duty she always wears a headscarf, called a hijab, when she is in public or in the presence of men who are not members of her immediate family.

Dakroub's UAE driver's license showing her without head covering.

Dakroub’s UAE driver’s license showing her without head covering.

Dakroub, of Dearborn Heights, claimed she was forced to remove her hijab and that she was falsely arrested for a misdemeanor of driving while license suspended. She was arrested May 17, 2015 while she and several family members were on vacation at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

Dakroub’s DWLS charge was dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to a civil infraction of careless driving.

Dakroub’s 14-page complaint filed June 9, 2015 in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Michigan alleged that she was humiliated and degraded by having to remove her scarf in front of male police officers, as well as male inmates. The complaint alleged that “male inmates made advances at her and hit on her” while she was not wearing the scarf.

Farber said that simply was not true. “There were allegations that there male inmates hitting on her. She never had any contacts with male inmates,” he said. “That never happened.” The video of her booking verifies that, the sheriff said.

“My people did a great job, like they do every day,” the sheriff said.

Another factual error in the lawsuit is the allegation that she was arrested by a sheriff’s deputy when in fact she was arrested by a state Department of Natural Resources officer, Farber said.

The complaint also alleges she was in jail for three hours, Farber said, but it was one hour and 53 minutes.

Dakroub’s mugshots show that she is wearing a ‘hoodie’ type garment that covered her ears and sides of her neck. She was wearing another garment over that hoodie that was removed, Farber said. Layered clothing is never allowed in the jail, he said, for safety and security reasons.

The booking officers “made accommodations for her” by allowing her to keep the hoodie on, he said. In her United Arab Emirates driver’s license photo, Dakroub is pictured with no head covering at all.

“Dakroub is a practicing Muslim-American who was taken into custody by the Oceana Sheriff’s Department,” stated the complaint. “Upon arrival at the Oceana Sheriff’s Department’s Office, Dakroub was required to go through the booking process. Dakroub was asked to remove her head covering. When Dakroub verbally expressed her disappointment and concern, the sheriff’s officer indicated that this was policy and she had no choice.

“Dakroub explained the religious importance and significance of her head covering, but her concerns fell on deaf ears. Dakroub requested that a female police officer conduct the booking process as opposed to the several male officers that began the process. The Oceana Sheriff’s Department denied that request and stated it could not be done and that Dakroub had to remove her head covering in front of all the male police officers and other inmates. Dakroub was forced to remove her head covering in violation of her religious beliefs. As a result of the foregoing deprivations of her First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as her rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Dakroub suffered severe humiliation, emotional distress, and discomfort.”

Farber said there were no female officers on duty that day, which was a Sunday. Had there been one on duty, a female would have performed the search. If Dakroub had been willing to wait 6-8 hours for a female to come from another department, she could have been booked by a female officer, he said.

“A substantial amount of Muslim women wear a headscarf, also known as a hijab, in accordance with their religious beliefs that are based on their understanding of the Koran, the primary holy book of the Muslim religion, as well as other religious texts,” the complaint stated. “As part of her religious faith and practice, Dakroub wears a headscarf, covering her hair, ears, neck, and chest, when in public and when she is at home, if she is in the presence of men who are not part of her immediate family.

“On May 17, 2015, Dakroub was taking advantage of a rare opportunity to spend time with her family, including her daughter, in Oceana County, Michigan,” the complaint stated. “Dakroub rented a Jeep vehicle from a local business to take her family around the local sand dunes. Dakroub, not being familiar with the area, became a little lost while driving around an awkwardly laid out parking lot. From a great distance away, an Oceana County Sheriff’s officer sped to the location of Dakroub and stopped his police cruiser directly in front of Dakroub’s jeep. Dakroub was told that she was speeding, although there was no radar or laser confirmation of such speeding. According to the officer, he simply ‘knew’ that Dakroub was speeding,” the complaint alleged.

“After taking Dakroub’s driver’s license and returning to the police cruiser for an extended period of time, the officer questioned Dakroub on whether she had a suspended license. Dakroub confirmed that there was no such suspension. Dakroub was asked to get out of the Jeep and was placed in handcuffs and placed under arrest. However, she was not told why she was under arrest,” the complaint alleged.

“Given no other option, and in fear of the consequences of not removing her headscarf, Dakroub reluctantly removed her headscarf (at the jail) in front of the three male officers,” the complaint claimed. “Dakroub was then placed in a holding cell and was forced to sit there for approximately three hours without a head scarf in front of all the male officers as well as multiple other male inmates. Dakroub was further degraded and humiliated when male inmates made advances at her and hit on her when she was not wearing her headscarf. Dakroub was not permitted to put her headscarf on after being booked and searched.”

The lawsuit sought compensatory, punitive and economic damages in a jury trial.

Farber said Dakroub’s attorney filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request several weeks after filing the complaint, which demonstrates that the complaint was written without having the facts first.

“Allowing Plaintiff to retain possession of a lengthy scarf while she was in a jail holding cell presented significant security concerns for the Plaintiff, other inmates and corrections officers,” the summary of the sheriff’s position stated.

The response stated that she was booked into the jail after she was “lawfully arrested by another agency.”

Part of the agreement in dismissing the suit was that the sheriff’s office adopt a policy regarding religious headware, the sheriff said. The policy that has since been enacted was followed when Dakroub was booked, he said. “It is exactly what we did,” Farber said. “Our folks did a great job.”

The county “paid no money whatsoever” as a settlement for the lawsuit, Farber said. The only money the county paid was $6,720 in legal fees as of March 29, he said.

“What our folks did was the right thing, which is referenced by the fact that there was zero money awarded,” Farber said. “I commend them for what they do every day.”

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