BINGHAMTON, NY – (WIVT/WBGH) A local man is planning to file a lawsuit contending that he was wrongfully prosecuted and convicted of weapons charges because he is Black and Muslim.
Ramadan Abdullah appeared in Broome County Court Thursday morning on the last remaining charge after the other 15 felonies he was originally convicted of were thrown out or dropped by prosecutors. Abdullah was sentenced to time served as the final illegal weapon charge carried a 1 year jail sentence and he had already served 4 years in prison.
Abdullah was arrested in June, 2017 for allegedly shoplifting ammunition from the Gander Mountain store in Johnson City. Further investigation lead police to a storage locker in the Town of Union where they found loaded handguns, assault weapons, a loaded shotgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Police say the handguns were not registered or licensed to Abdullah, making them illegal.
However, an appeals court ruled that investigators illegally obtained search warrants by questioning him without advising him of his rights. The court threw out many of the charges and ordered a new trial on others. Prosecutors then dropped all but one of those charges, an illegal weapon charge related to a so-called slung shot, or monkey fist, that Abdullah says essentially amounted to a marble in a sock.
Ramadan Abdullah says, “Because of my ethnicity and also my religion, I was targeted in a very negative way. It caused a great deal of harm to my family and myself. I have served over 4 years in jail for nothing more than now, a marble in a sock.”
His attorneys, Peter Orville and former Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, say they plan to appeal the remaining conviction arguing that what Abdullah possessed did not match the legal definition of a slung shot.
At the time of his arrest, investigators questioned why Abdullah possessed so many weapons, intimating that he might be planning a terrorist attack. Abdullah says the answer should have been obvious: he’s a hunter, collector and competitive marksman. He believes police, prosecutors and the judge would have accepted that answer if they were not prejudiced against him because he’s a Black Muslim.
Ramadan Abdullah says, “I have been a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association. I’ve been a lifetime hunter and bow hunter in Broome County. I’ve been a lifetime member of the Square Deal Rifle Range. I’ve shot competitively at a very high level in Broome County, in the Hudson Valley, at Broome County Sportsmen’s, at Square Deal and at Tioga Sportsmen’s.”
Ryan represented Abdullah at his trial. Ryan says the judge would not allow him to argue that the case was racially motivated.
Abdullah says he plans to sue because his constitutional rights were violated. They include his 1st amendment right to freedom of religion, his 2nd amendment right to bear arms, his 4th amendment right to freedom from illegal searches and his 6th amendment right to a fair trail.