Attorney: Miranda rights of Lawrence man accused in police shooting, standoff were violated
photo by: Sara Shepherd
A defense attorney is hoping to block his client’s potentially incriminating statements to law enforcement from being used in court, alleging that his Miranda rights were violated.
Abdul Jalil K. Hussein, 35, of Lawrence, is charged in connection with multiple incidents: allegedly firing a gun into the air outside his home, which led to an hourslong standoff with police in December 2017; allegedly kicking in and destroying the front door of his mother’s home on June 8, 2018; and reportedly returning to his mother’s home with an ax and a pistol, chopping a hole in the front door to get in and then driving back to his own home a few blocks away, where he allegedly exchanged gunfire with a Lawrence police officer, on June 29, 2018.
In his most recent case, Hussein faces multiple high-level felony charges, including attempted first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, battery and aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and two counts of criminal discharge of a firearm.
Because the latest incident involved a Lawrence police officer firing his weapon, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office was brought in to investigate.
Two Lawrence police officers and a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office detective testified in a hearing Tuesday morning in Hussein’s case.
Assistant District Attorney Alice Walker and Hussein’s defense attorney, Hatem Chahine, questioned officers about their contact with Hussein on the night of the standoff.
Officer Kevin Henderson, of the Lawrence Police Department, said he was called to the incident because he was on the Crisis Response Team. He said the unit is called to handle “high-risk” situations, such as this situation, when Hussein had reportedly barricaded himself in his home. Henderson said his goal that evening was just to resolve the situation peacefully and that he did not question Hussein at all.
photo by: Ashley Hocking/Journal-World File Photo
Officer Daniel Palen, also of LPD, then testified that he was on patrol that evening and was called to the home on Stowe Court to transport Hussein to to the department’s Investigations and Training Center for an interview.
According to testimony, Palen brought Hussein into the ITC around 1:55 a.m. Saturday, June 30, 2018. Palen said Hussein was asking about who they were waiting for, and at one point tried to step out of the interview room, setting off alarms. Palen said he wasn’t sure at that point exactly who was coming, but Hussein had asked in a “joking” manner if it was the tooth fairy or Santa Claus.
Detective Leslie Smith, of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, began interviewing Hussein just before 6 a.m., about four hours later.
Walker played a video in court of Hussein’s night in the interview room, condensed to show just his interactions with law enforcement.
The video showed that before reading Hussein his rights, Smith asked him a few questions about his home and his Jeep. Then Smith provided Hussein a form listing the Miranda rights and walked him through it, Hussein acknowledging that he understood after each one.
Then Smith gave Hussein a form to read aloud to waive those rights. However, at that point Hussein said he wanted an attorney. Smith asked if he had one, and Hussein said he did have an appointed attorney in another case but couldn’t recall his or her name. Smith said that was fine, but he wouldn’t be able to get another attorney at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and he would probably have to wait until his first court appearance to speak with one.
When Walker asked whether Smith had asked Hussein any further questions after he requested an attorney, Smith said “Absolutely not.”
However, Chahine pointed out that Smith did say, twice, that he was “just trying to get (Hussein’s) side of the story.” Chahine asked Smith what purpose that statement served if not to elicit an incriminating response from Hussein. Smith said it was not an attempt to coerce Hussein into talking but rather to explain to him the nature of why Smith and another Johnson County detective were there.
photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
The video shows that after the second time Smith said he wanted to get Hussein’s side of the story — after Hussein said he’s “sticking with the right to remain silent and the attorney present” — Hussein did begin to give a longer and potentially incriminating statement, talking about his constitutional right to defend his property if someone is firing at him.
The Supreme Court’s opinion in the case that established Miranda rights states that unless and until prosecutors can demonstrate that a defendant understood his rights and chose to waive them, “no evidence obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against him.”
Chahine is asking the court to suppress any statements Hussein made to the Johnson County detectives on the grounds that they violated Hussein’s rights in that regard.
In another motion, yet to be heard, prosecutors are asking that evidence from Hussein’s other cases be admitted in this case.
The hearing will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria is presiding.
The case is set to go to trial beginning Nov. 4; two others are scheduled to start at later dates, according to online court records.
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