The situation does indeed seem grim for Jamil Al-Amin. A fugitive from the law, accused of shooting two Fulton County Georgia police officers -- one of whom has died -- Al-Amin faces an uphill battle if and when law enforcement officers apprehend him. But thoughts right now seem not to be focused on any process that might lie ahead with reference to this issue. Rather, all attention has been targeted towards speculation over Al-Amin's innocence or guilt in the matter.
Could Al-Amin be guilty in this shooting incident? Of course. He very well could have engaged in a deadly exchange with police, been injured, fled the scene of the crime and gone into hiding. And most news reports have focused on the likelihood of such a scenario.
But much remains to be uncovered in this situation and the facts of the incident suggest that it is not simply an open and shut case against Al-Amin.
Take, for instance, the circumstances under which the officers in question attempted to serve Al-Amin with a warrant. According to reports, officers approached Al-Amin's grocery store shortly after 10:00 p.m. Failing to find him there, they circled the block and upon returning, saw a black Mercedes parked in front of the store.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that an individual standing beside the black Mercedes fired on the officers as they approached the man and the vehicle. But according to a WGNX television report Friday, Al-Amin was allegedly inside the vehicle in question. So which was it?
Then there is the issue of the weapon Al-Amin allegedly used. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday that authorities believe Al-Amin shot the officers with a .223 caliber assault rifle, which according to the report is "similar to M-16 and AR-15 rifles." I'm no weapons expert, but M-16-like weapons are typically hard to conceal and equally as difficult to wield from the interior of an automobile. So what was the encounter outside the grocery store really like?
Sheriff Jackie Barrett described the shooting as an "ambush," as quoted by the Journal-Constitution. That would be consistent with the multiple shell casings found at the scene of the crime. In fact, 40 caliber shells from the officers' guns were present as well as 23 caliber and 45 mm shells.
Given all this information, the entire incident sounds almost like a premeditated gangland shooting with multiple assailants contributing to the melee.
Now I do not know Jamil Al-Amin personally, but I know individuals who do; and being a willing participant in a gangland style assault on police officers is fully inconsistent with his lifestyle as a Muslim over the past 24 years. Al-Amin is truly a pillar of the Atlanta community, having contributed to drug eradication and fighting poverty through his ministry. And it is unfortunate that the media continues to focus on incidents from his distant past that are not representative of the man he is today.
With all this said however, it would behoove Al-Amin to find a good lawyer who can arrange for his surrender to authorities. Continuing as a fugitive from justice will not aid his plight. Rest assured though that both Muslim and civil rights organizations are closely monitoring how this situation develops and will play a role making certain that justice and fairness are served in the resolution of this tragic incident.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com