San Jose police officer Nabil Haidar has been with the department since 1997 and says that officers would taunt him by mimicking the sound of explosions when he walked by, as if to insinuate that he was a terrorist.
The officer moved from Lebanon to the US in 1988 and earned a Bachelor's in Criminology in 1996. Later that year, he was hired by the San Jose Police Department and was put on the force after graduating from the Police Academy the following year.
It all began after the September 11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda against the World Trade Center. According to the lawsuit, he was asked questions like "how many infidels are you planning to kill today?" and "You didn't leave a bomb under my car, did you?" Officers would allegedly pat him down and ask whether he had a bomb on him.
On one occasion, an officer introduced Haidar to his wife. He allegedly told her "This is Haidar. He is an ISIS [Daesh]." And at a meeting in 2017 on Veteran's Day, when San Jose Police Captain Johnson Fong thanked all of the veterans present, Sergeant Labarbera allegedly said aloud "You forgot to mention Nabil. He is an ISIS veteran. He was with ISIS for two years."
"Everyone burst into laughter, Mr. Haidar was in disbelief, humiliated and shocked," the lawsuit reads.
According to Haidar, the bullying reached new heights in 2017, so he asked to get transferred from patrol to recruitment even though it would mean taking a pay cut. He's now seeking $6 million in damages.
The lawsuit also states that Haidar was retaliated against for bringing up the issues he was facing with his superiors and the department's Internal Affairs division, which investigates officers in cases of potential wrongdoing.
The case is the second time in two months that a police department in California's Bay Area has been accused of harassing one of its Muslim officers.
In April, a police officer in nearby San Francisco who is of Afghan descent also reported racial and religious discrimination and that he'd been retaliated against for reporting it. Fellow officers allegedly called him a "sand n-----" and wrote that he belongs to ISIS on his locker. The department promised to investigate after the allegations surfaced.