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Abdiaziz Hussein

Other Maine exonerations
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On November 10, 2017, in Lewiston, Maine, police Corporal Raymond Roberts went to 20-year-old Abdiaziz Hussein’s apartment to serve a criminal summons for a charge of theft.

Roberts would later assert that after Hussein refused to sign the summons, he attempted to arrest Hussein and they struggled, falling to the floor.

Hussein was arrested on charges of failing to sign the summons, failing to submit to arrest, and assault—all misdemeanor charges. In fact, Hussein later learned, Roberts could have merely checked a box on the summons that said that Hussein refused to sign it and then left.

On July 20, 2018, Hussein went to trial in Androscoggin County Court. Roberts testified that after he presented the summons, Hussein became “hostile” and began “shaking his fist.” Roberts said Hussein declared, “I’m not signing nothing, I’m not doing nothing.”

Roberts said he explained that signing the summons was not an admission of guilt, but refusing to sign would be an additional criminal violation leading to his arrest. Roberts said Hussein became “really heated” and “had his fist up shaking it at me.”

When Hussein still refused to sign the summons, Roberts said he told him he was under arrest. Roberts said that at that point, he noticed Hussein “look to the door.” As Roberts said, “You’re under arrest, don’t move,” Hussein “started to turn.” Roberts said he chased Hussein down a hallway.

Roberts said he grabbed Hussein and attempted to gain control of him by twisting his arm in what Roberts said was an “arm bar.” Roberts said that Hussein “turned around and just belted me in the face with a closed fist...in the mouth and nose.”

Roberts said he managed to drag Hussein into the kitchen where he attempted to subdue Hussein. Roberts said he attempted to pin Hussein to the floor, but that Hussein was “still flailing and fighting violently.” Roberts said he yelled at Hussein, telling him that he was “under arrest, lay on the floor, get on your belly,” but he continued to resist until finally Roberts managed to subdue him.

While this struggle was going on, Hussein’s sister, Maryanne, took out her mobile phone and began filming. Roberts said Maryanne slapped him on the back of head as she was filming. Roberts radioed for assistance, and other officers arrived to help to control the scene. Hussein was arrested and taken out of the apartment.

Roberts said he suffered a cut to his inner lip and his nose was “dingy.” He said the struggle “rung my bell a little bit.”

The defense sought to introduce the video filmed by Hussein’s sister, asserting that it showed Hussein with a pen in his hand pinned to the floor, saying repeatedly, “I’ll sign. I’ll sign,” and that he was not fighting violently.

The trial judge, however, sustained the prosecution’s objection that because the filming started after Hussein and Roberts were on the floor in the kitchen, it was incomplete and did not present an accurate picture of what happened.

At the conclusion of the one-day trial, the jury convicted Hussein of failing to sign the summons, failing to submit to arrest, and assault. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail, fined $500, and ordered to complete 20 hours of community service.

In May 2019, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine reversed Hussein’s convictions. The court ruled that the defense should have been permitted to introduce the video taken by Hussein’s sister. The trial judge’s refusal to allow it was an abuse of discretion, particularly after Roberts, during cross-examination, admitted that the video was an accurate depiction of what had occurred. The court ordered the case remanded back to county court for a new trial.

On September 5, 2019, the prosecution dismissed the charges.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/23/2019
State:Maine
County:Androscoggin
Most Serious Crime:Other Violent Misdemeanor
Additional Convictions:Misdemeanor
Reported Crime Date:2017
Convicted:2018
Exonerated:2019
Sentence:10 days
Race:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:20
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No