Former Muslim SFPD officer awarded over $450K in discrimination settlement

A former San Francisco police officer has been awarded nearly half a million dollars after he sued the city complaining of discrimination based on his faith and ethnicity. 

Mohammad Habib, 38, filed the case in San Francisco County Superior Court in 2018.  He complained that when he was transferred to SFPD's Central Station, he became a victim of harassment because of his Muslim race and Afghan background. 

Habib is an Afghan man who was born in Iran after his family fled Afghanistan. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1993; they settled in Union City. Habib's complaint states that he dreamed of becoming a police officer since he was a small boy. 

He applied and was accepted to the San Francisco Police Academy in 2016. After he trained at the Northern Station, where he felt accepted and welcomed, Habib's complaint says things took a turn for the worse. 

The complaint describes that fellow officers and at least one supervisor "repeatedly made derogatory remarks" to Habib about his religion, family and culture. In two separate incidents, Habib's locker was defaced with graffiti. One piece of graffiti showed the ISIS flag along with the words, "ISIS go back," the complaint states. 

Habib's complaint alleges that one officer took him to a "gentlemen's club" on Broadway "in a deliberate attempt to embarrass" him. Fellow officers also asked Habib to inform them of his family's "terrorist network" plans ahead of time, so they could "put them down gently," the complaint said. 

After Habib made complaints to supervisors, the city and County of San Francisco Human Resources Department and the California Department of Fair Labor and Housing placed him on desk duty in January of 2018.

Though SFPD's Internal Affairs team said they were investigating Habib's complaints of harassment, he did not see the results of their efforts. In April 2018, he was informed that he was also under investigation by Internal Affairs. 

One month later, Habib received a letter from SFPD Chief William Scott informing him that he had been terminated from his employment. In addition, Habib was also issued a "Brady" notification from Scott. 

Under California law, prosecutors are required to keep what's called a "Brady list" of officers who commit misconduct that rises to a certain level, often including making false statements. Once an officer is on that list, it can damage their credibility and career by preventing them from testifying in court. 

In this case, SFPD alleged Habib did not accurately disclose his background information when he applied to the force. The court documents state that Habib had been "detained" by the Napa Police Department after a traffic stop several years prior. 

The SFPD also alleged that Habib had not disclosed that he applied for a position with the Oakland Police Department and had attended that city's police academy before applying to SFPD. However, Habib's complaint states that he authorized the SFPD to conduct a full background investigation into all information he provided on his application. 

Habib argues that by adding his name to the Brady list, it damaged his ability to work with any law enforcement agency in the future. 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to approve the settlement on Tuesday. Habib was awarded a total of $455,000.  

It was not immediately clear at time of publish where Habib may be working now. KTVU reached out to Habib's attorney for comment, and we are waiting to hear back.