A physical therapist is suing Dearborn officials for tainting his reputation by allegedly presenting his photo as one belonging to a different doctor facing federal drug charges.
According to the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Olajide Akunrounmu worked in the same medical building in Dearborn as Tete Oniango, whom authorities investigated for supplying prescription narcotics to local drug dealers.
Despite the city’s “long history of involvement” with Oniango through his arrest in June, when Dearborn leaders issued a news release and held a news conference on the case, they used a picture showing Akunrounmu that appeared to have been “ ‘photoshopped’ off of a private photograph … in which he was one of many other individuals in a group photo,” attorney Vincent Lorelli wrote in the court filing. “This photo was altered by the City of Dearborn for their own wrongful use.”
Akunrounmu’s lawyer alleges city officials already had a mug shot of the other professional on file and through a lengthy probe with other law enforcement agencies “knew what Dr. Oniango looked like.”
The implication that Akunrounmu was the suspect accused of serious felonies “tarnished the good name and reputation” the physical therapist gained over the years as well as cost him business.
The photo served to defame Akunrounmu “in their false proclamations that Plaintiff’s was an arrested, drug-pushing doctor,” his lawyer claims.
The suit, which names Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., police Chief Ron Haddad and several officers, also claims city officials violated Akunrounmu’s constitutional rights while failing to address practices that prevented such actions.
Akunrounmu seeks at least $75,000 in punitive damages and costs.
Representatives for Haddad, O’Reilly and the city did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday night.