Warren man sues, says cop arrested him for profane language

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Awni Safadi

Warren — A Warren man pinched for using blue language on a boy in blue has decided to sue.

Awni Safadi filed Monday a federal lawsuit against a Sterling Heights police officer who arrested him for calling the cop a "f------ a------" after a traffic stop.

He is suing for damages to be decided by a jury, according to the lawsuit filed in the Southern Division of the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Michigan.

Safadi, 26, claims the police officer retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights, violated his rights against an unlawful search, seizure and arrest, and committed malicious prosecution. 

In the complaint, Safadi said Sterling Heights officer Ryan Braathen pulled him over on April 19, 2016, while he was driving on Utica Road.

Braathen told Safadi he stopped him because he had crossed the middle line of the roadway twice, according to the lawsuit. The officer gave Safadi a ticket for improper lane use and not having proof of auto insurance.

Safadi tried to question Braathen about the basis for the citations, but the officer allegedly refused to discuss the matter, the complaint said.

As Braathen walked away, Safadi used the profanity. 

The cop returned to the driver's door of Safadi's car and said "'Excuse me?'" the lawsuit said.

Safadi told the officer he called him the profane name. Braathen opened the driver's car door and ordered Safadi out of the vehicle, according to the suit.

He allegedly told Safadi that there were people around and he couldn't use that kind of foul language. He then arrested Safadi and took him to the Sterling Heights Police Department, where he was booked and jailed. Safadi's car was impounded and searched, the complaint said.

Police cited Safadi for disorderly conduct and he paid a cash bond to be released from jail. A judge forbade him to leave the state unless he got the court's permission.

Officer Ryan Braathen

Issa Haddad, Aafadi's attorney, said his client recorded the entire incident with his cellphone. It and footage captured by the dashboard camera of the officer's patrol vehicle support Safadi's claims, the attorney said.

"Both were played at his trial on the disorderly conduct charge and the jury found him not guilty," he said. 

Safadi was acquitted on Oct. 20, 2017.

"The officer was using his power to arrest and to punish my client for his free speech. This is called contempt of cop. However, at the jury trial the jury seen right through the officer's lies," said Haddad.

Sterling Heights Police Department officials referred questions to the city's attorney, Marc Kaszubski. Kaszubski wasn't immediately available for comment.

According to the Macomb County Sheriff's Office, Safadi is at the Macomb County Jail, serving a nine-month sentence for assault with a dangerous weapon, in an unrelated matter. He is also serving a five-month sentence for obtaining property under false pretenses and five months for second-degree retail fraud.

His lawsuit comes nearly a month after a federal appeals court ruled a Michigan woman’s lawsuit can proceed against a Taylor police officer who gave her a speeding ticket after she gave him the middle finger.

MoreCourt: Middle finger protected by the constitution


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez