A member of the Christina School board is making sure an incident involving University of Delaware Police arresting Mohammed Sanogo on his graduation night is not swept under the rug.
In a board meeting Tuesday night, member Naveed Baqir, who has been leading the charge in ensuring Sanogo gets justice and in holding UD police accountable, once again brought up the June 15 arrest.
In late July, UD finally released a video of the incident which included bodycam footage from multiple police officers involved.
The university reiterated that its police officers acted appropriately in addressing behavior that posed a risk to public safety, using appropriate de-escalation techniques.
“The first eight minutes of the video, you see only one car and that is a car not owned by this student, not driven by this student, this student was nowhere near that car for eight minutes,” he said Tuesday. “Their focus on that particular car makes me believe that they are trying to connect the actions of another person to justify the arrest of [Sanogo] which is an absolute falsehood.”
He pointed out that UD has stated that a car was driving through the parking lot carelessly with multiple passengers having their feet out the window.
“All I can see is that there was one person hanging out of the window of that particular car, but that was not Mohammed’s car,” he said. “It was not Mohammed hanging out of the window and it was not Mohammed driving that car.”
He also questioned why the officers blamed the screeching sounds coming from Sanogo’s car as a reason for charging him with reckless driving.
In the video, he cites, there’s about 17 seconds of time that goes by after the screeching noise until the officers actually show urgency and begin running towards Sanogo’s car.
“Had UD accepted any responsibility and assured the community about how it plans on avoiding such incidents from happening again, this issue would have subsided by now,” Baqir said. “However, UD’s stonewalling and insistence on proving itself innocent despite proven falsehoods released to the public behind its decision to arrest is shameful.”
UD needs to apologize for lying about the false reasons it gave to the public to substantiate an unjustified arrest and issue a public apology to him and the community in order to redeem itself, he said.
“It also needs to hold community meetings and assure everyone that corrective actions will take place to make the area safe and eliminate on-campus violence perpetrated by its own staff,” he said.
Sanogo, a student with a grade point average above a 4.0 and plans to attend the University of Maryland to pursue aerospace engineering, was arrested outside of UD’s Bob Carpenter Center June 15, less than 45 minutes after receiving his diploma during Newark High School’s graduation.
Officers approached a handful of people including Sanogo who were engaging in a Muslim group prayer in the parking lot, and a UD police officer told them they had to leave.
Three cars of teenagers were on their way out of the parking lot, but as Sanogo’s car left, his car made a screeching noise, which witnesses blamed on new tires. Three DelDOT trucks “boxed in” Sanogo.
Sanogo opened his car door at an officer’s request and officers dragged him out and pinned him against the car after Sanogo was struggling and showing some resistance, according to witnesses who are friends of Sanogo.
An officer picked up Sanogo and slammed him into tall grass. Sanogo has asthma and kept repeating that he couldn’t breathe.
He was arrested and held overnight, released at 4 a.m. with a $200 unsecured bail.
Sanogo was charged with resisting arrest and reckless driving and accused of trespassing.
Baqir, witnesses and dozens of public commenters characterized the event as an abuse of power, excessive force and driven by religious or racial biases.
The university has adamantly denied any allegations that its police officers acted with racial or religious bias.
Christina has begun cutting ties with UD, and recently voted to stop holding their graduations at the university.
Sanogo has since had the charges dropped against him after a July 26 filing from Attorney General Kathy Jennings. A release from the office said that Sanogo had accepted his role in the events.
Even so, Baqir has relentlessly tried to get UD to apologize and acknowledge what he says is false information in their account and edited video.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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