Trial is set to start Wednesday over a multi-million-dollar federal lawsuit a Lowell man filed against a Lowell police officer over the way he was arrested for negligent operation and resisting arrest in 2019 - but first the judge in the case will ask prospective jurors whether they feel they can be impartial in a case brought by a man believes he "is a Moorish American national not fully subject to the laws of the United States."
Leonitus Jabir Bey, who is acting as his own lawyer, initially also sued a variety of officials, including Charlie Baker, the mayor of Lowell, the judge who oversaw the criminal case arising out of the traffic stop and the Middlesex County sheriff, as well as the officer who arrested him, for $9 million - payable in cash only - alleging that, in addition to a variety of conspiracy and intimidation charges, everybody he named was also responsible for genocide and domestic terrorism directed at him. The judge struck all but the police officer from the case.
Bey is a supporter of Rise of the Moors, 11 of whose allegedly armed-to-the-gills members were arrested after an hours-long standoff on Rte. 128 in Wakefield. On his initial complaint form, a line where his lawyer is supposed to sign his or her name had "attorney" crossed out and "counsel" written in - and the line was signed by Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey, the group's leader.
Many "Moorish-Americans" adopt the last names of either Bey or El - and many bring similar lawsuits when they are stopped for traffic offenses. In the Lowell case, Bey was identified as Leon J. Campbell.
At a hearing last week, US District Court Judge Patti Saris gave Bey the chance to have his trial postponed to let publicity about the Rte. 128 incident die down - especially because of potential impacts on prospective jurors, from both the story in general and from the fact that he showed up at the courthouse to support group members at their arraignments and so might have appeared on TV coverage.
Aside from the allegations of genocide and his claims his rights as a Moorish-American were violated because Lowell Police refused to grant him access to a Moorish-American consul as allegedly required by a 1786 treaty between the US and Morocco, Bey claims he was unjustly arrested and beaten by Officer David Pender.
He also alleges that Pender "denationalized" him by referring to him as "black" and that the entire criminal justice system discriminated against him by "placing him in bondage" after his arrest, from which he was released only on payment of a $40 "ransom" and that Pender and others tried to "force an identity on him" - his previous name - to illegally claim jurisdiction over him, despite him not being an American citizen.
Also, negligent operation, in his case for marked-lanes violations and making an unsafe lane change - are not arrestable offenses, he claims - citing a 1971 California state court decision that, in fact, has no applicability to Massachusetts driving laws and that, in any case, upheld the arrest of a woman on a variety of car-theft and drug charges after she was stopped for minor infractions. He was also charged with failing to stop for a police officer after Pender activated his siren and blue lights, only getting out of his car when he got to his own driveway in Lowell, of which he also claims not to be a citizen.
In his filings, Pender's lawyer argues Pender had more than ample reason to arrest Bey on Jan. 22, 2019 - as borne out by the fact that a Lowell District Court jury convicted Bey of negligent operation and resisting arrest on Sept. 4, 2019.
Pender is also protected by "qualified immunity" since he was acting in his role as a police officer and did nothing wrong, he argues. And the law bars using civil courts to try to overturn a criminal conviction such as the one the Lowell jury meted out. Also:
There is no plausible claim for genocide.
Bey's complaint (1.4M PDF).
More details from Bey (2.7M PDF).
Pender's argument on why the case should be tossed (154k PDF).
Pender's argument on why Bey shouldn't raise officer's past disciplinary issues - the judge agreed, but said Bey could ask if Pender were being truthful in his testimony to officials in two of the cases (152k PDF).