Ishtiaq Ahmed, a Pakistani-American taxi driver from Brooklyn, claims his license was suspended and his livelihood interrupted after police framed him for an assault that never happened and arrested him in his mosque as a retaliation for enforcing social distancing guidelines.

Ahmed was arrested for the alleged assault in June of 2021, but Brooklyn prosecutors dropped the case shortly after for lack of evidence. Now, the 41-year-old, whose taxi license was suspended while he was facing charges, is suing the NYPD in federal court and demanding unspecified compensation and punitive damages for the upheaval the arrest caused him and his family.

The arrest was made by an officer from the 70th Precinct, who’d been previously disciplined on two separate occasions for issues related to arrests or summonses. The NYPD declined to comment on the incident, citing pending litigation.

Ahmed’s ordeal began while volunteering at the Makki Masjid Mosque in Midwood, helping congregants comply with COVID social distancing rules, according to his civil complaint. Ahmed claims officer Natasha Moseley-Jones became annoyed when he prevented her from entering an area deemed “overcrowded.”

Moseley-Jones filed a police report against Ahmed, claiming he assaulted another congregant attempting to enter the mosque. He was arrested a few weeks later, while again volunteering at the mosque, and spent the night in central booking. Ahmed says his wife and seven-year-old daughter were traumatized by the incident.

The alleged victim of Ahmad’s assault, Adil Khan, told police: “The only thing that happened was that we had an argument and he never touched me or beat me.”

Although the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office dropped the case, Ahmed lost weeks of work and fell behind on rent because of the suspension of his taxi license – a debt he says he’s still trying to repay a year later. Ahmed says he struggles to sleep and has suffered from severe anxiety, particularly when he sees an NYPD car.

In an interview with media outlet, THE CITY, Ahmed questioned why the NYPD chose to arrest him inside the mosque, a sacred space, rather than at his home.

“You came here [with] a big line of the police cars and too many police officers. You disrespect our religion,” he said. “You have to apologize for this one.”

Source: The City

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