CLEVELAND — Students and staff members of Case Western Reserve have sent a letter to the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio asking for a federal investigation into the 2016 officer-involved fatal shooting which left student Saif Al Ameri dead.
The letter was sent independently of CWRU and the school of law, according to a spokesperson.
Elizabeth Connors, a second-year law student, is one of the CWRU students who helped write the letter.
"This letter is out there because, despite the state prosecutor having presented their case, justice was not done and there are issues with the narrative around what happened to Saif, as well as, with the investigation the state conducted which is why a federal investigation is needed," Connors said.
Connors said the group of students and faculty want to "in the law,and we’re among the few people who can actually give a voice to victims of police violence like Saif."
"We didn’t think we should stay silent," she added. "Seeing our friend and classmate killed by the police opened up the school’s eyes to how big this problem is. It’s easy for people in our position to think we’re untouchable, but a law student in Hudson from a wealthy family is no safer from police violence than anyone else."
The letter, copied to the Hudson Hub-Times, requests a federal investigation to determine if Mr. Al Ameri's civil rights were violated and if he was shot because of the color of his skin.
"We are writing to request a federal investigation into the Hudson police shooting and killing of our colleague and member of the Case Western Reserve School of Law community, Saif Al Ameri, on December 4, 2016," the Sept. 13 letter to Justin Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, read. "Saif was killed after a Hudson police officer exited his car with his gun drawn and ordered Saif to stop running or he would shoot. Five bullets later, and with Officer [Ryan] Doran’s admitted observation that Saif had no weapon in his hands, he was dead."
The letter, signed by more than 50 individuals, alleges Doran's "lone recount of the chase and purported struggle that ensued raises significant questions that will only be answered by a more thorough investigation."
The letter also alleges Doran's actions are indicative of his inability to employ proper policing techniques and that the "unchecked improper, unconstitutional, and deadly conduct of Officer Doran poses a grave risk to the community and those who travel through the city."
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation cleared Doran earlier this year in the shooting death of Mr. Al Ameri. A grand jury declined to indict the officer.
Al Ameri was shot and killed as Doran attempted to arrest the 26-year-old Case Western Reserve University law student. Al Ameri earlier had fled on foot after crashing his car on the Ohio Turnpike.
Case Western also issued its own formal statement Aug. 4, months after students held a candlelight vigil in Al Ameri’s honor in Cleveland.
"The state may have closed the case involving our law student Saif Nasser Mubarak Ali Al Ameri, but his tragic loss continues to be felt keenly on our campus. His classmates, as well as school faculty and staff, described Saif as friendly, generous and regularly able to inspire a smile among others," the statement read. "We again express our deepest sympathies to his loved ones and friends, and hope that their memories of him still will provide comfort."
The case is now closed, said Jill Del Greco, a spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office.
In June, BCI agents turned the results of their investigation, including a 44-page investigative summary, over to attorneys with DeWine’s office who had been appointed as special prosecutors in the case. They in turn presented the results to a grand jury.
According to Mike Tobin, a spokesperson for the United States Department of Justice, the letter will be reviewed like all documents and requests received by the office.
Hudson City Communication Manager Jody Roberts did not return phone calls or emails asking for comment.