DEARBORN – The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office announced that no charges will be issued in the fatal shooting of Ali Naji at the Dearborn police station in December.
A statement issued by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said the facts and evidence from the incident show that the officer acted in self-defense. In addition to no charges being issued, the warrant request was denied.
The incident took place at 3:32 p.m. on Dec. 18.
On that day, several people were in an out of the station as police collected Christmas presents for Toys for Tots.
Officials say Naji, 33, of Dearborn, walked into the station and within seconds pulled out a gun, pointed it at the officer in the lobby and pulled the trigger. The weapon failed and he tried to remove and reinsert the magazine.
The officer Naji tried to shoot was sitting behind a bullet-resistant acrylic window in front of the desk. When he saw Naji, he retreated and reappeared five seconds later with his gun.
Officials say he opened a window and fired multiple times. Naji was pulling back the slide on his weapon when he was struck.
The entire incident took about 13 seconds.
According to police, when they recovered Naji’s gun, the safety was off and there was one round in the chamber.
Naji was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.
Further investigation revealed Naji had just stolen the gun from a local barbershop he used to work at before the incident.
Police say there was no known motive and that Naji had a history of mental health issues.
“We may never know why Mr. Naji walked into the Dearborn Police Department with a loaded weapon, attempting to fire it at a police officer,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. “My office will not be issuing charges in this case. Although extremely tragic, this is a clear case where the officer acted in lawful self-defense and in the defense of others.”
Earlier, Naji’s family announced that they are suing the Dearborn Police Department and the city of Dearborn for $10 million, alleging wrongful death and excessive force.
According to Naji’s family’s attorney, Amir Makled, the officer who killed him failed to take any steps to deescalate the situation and deemed it appropriate to shoot and kill him.
The lawsuit also claims that the department has an “unconstitutional policy” of using excessive force – citing the shooting of Kevin Matthews in 2015 and of Janet Wilson in 2016, following an incident at the Fairlane Mall.
The suit cites several other incidents over the past nine years, including when two armed men entered the Dearborn Police Station in 2017.
According to the suit, the city’s previous handling of people with mental health concerns was the “moving force and proximate cause of (Naji’s) death” and it failed to implement or enforce proper policies or procedures for incidents involving armed individuals at the Dearborn Police Station. It also claimed the department failed to train or supervise the officer who shot and killed Naji.
Dearborn Police add master social worker for mental health police response
On February 17, after the fatal shooting of Ali Naji, the Dearborn Police Department announced that it had more than 1,500 mental health and welfare calls in 2022 — a significant increase from 2021 — so it’s stepping up its response with a social work co-responder.
Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin said the statistics the city saw in 2022 were not unique and that they follow a national trend.
“Last year,we had over 1,600 mental health and welfare calls and that’s a 30 percent increase over the last year,” Shahin said. “The majority of calls for mental health issues – they are not violent; it’s just a small percentage that makes the news.”
The uptick in mental health calls has spurred change at the Dearborn Police Department with the addition of social workers to their ranks. The first of whom is Stacey Wetters.
“This is the direction that policing is going to go in because officers are not necessarily trained to be social workers and so many calls expect them to be,” Wetters said.
Wetters is a licensed master social worker and a reserve deputy at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am able to see it from both sides, from the clinician side of it and from the law enforcement side,” she said.
Wetters will go on calls with officers who do have some training handling mental health issues, but she won’t be at risk.
“If its not a safe environment, then the social worker will have to stay in the background so the police officers can deescalate it,” Shahin said. “But when the social workers can respond with the officers we will do that as well.”
The program is funded through a grant from the Dearborn-based social services agency ACCESS.
The move is part of a small but growing trend to address mental health issues that spiral into police interactions with trained mental health practitioners — though relatively few departments have integrated non-officers into their ranks specifically for that purpose in Michigan.