Former Paterson policeman loses discrimination case appeal | Paterson Times

Former Paterson policeman loses discrimination case appeal


A former city policeman lost an appeal to a discrimination lawsuit he filed against the city in 2010, according to court documents.

Former Paterson police officer Mohammad Mahmoud lost an appeal to his discrimination suit on May 7. Mahmoud filed a federal lawsuit against the city after police Chief James Wittig recommended he be disarmed following an alleged domestic violence incident against his wife.

Mahmoud was charged with simple assault in connection with the 2004 incident and his firearm was taken away in accordance with the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines, a set of rules that governs police department conduct.

During a Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office investigation, Wittig “recommended that Mahmoud not be rearmed,” according to court documents. A subsequent investigation by the prosecutors that included interviews with Mahmoud’s wife, her sister and mother, review of his original psychological evaluation, and a study of his fitness for duty reports determined that Mahmoud not be rearmed.

In November 2010, Mahmoud filed against the city, Wittig, and police director Michael Walker, for discrimination alleging that the “decision not to rearm him was discriminatory because the Prosecutor had a history of permitting other non-Muslim police officers with similar and sometimes worse records to be rearmed.”

A Muslim-American Mahmoud argued the prosecutors “rubber-stamped” the police department’s recommendation.

The federal court found Mahmoud’s arguments “unavailing” because the prosecutor’s office conducted “extensive investigation that included a review of psychiatric evaluations, which contained red flags regarding Mahmoud’s fitness for duty, which a hearing officer relied on as the basis for his termination,” according to court documents.

Final decision for rearmament belonged to the prosecutor who Mahmoud did not include as a defendant in his lawsuit. The court further stated that the city, Walker and Wittig were entitled to “qualified immunity” for their recommendation to the prosecutor’s office.

Mahmoud appealed the case arguing the court incorrectly granted the city and police chief and director qualified immunity and that the court did not conduct a proper analysis for his discrimination claim.

Third Circuit Appeal Court Marjorie Rendell in a May 6 opinion wrote Mahmoud failed to prove Walker and Wittig violated his constitutional rights. “In the absence of any constitutional violation—here, not proven—qualified immunity was properly granted, and there was no need to address the City’s liability,” Rendell wrote.

Rendell wrote Mahmoud failed to name the prosecutor’s office that ultimately decided whether or not to arm him. He failed to demonstrate that any discriminatory animus motivated either the Prosecutor’s or Police Chief Widding’s [sic] decision not to recommend his rearmament,” Rendell’s opinion read.

Mahmoud was hired as a police officer by the city in 2001, according to court documents.