Breaking News Emails
The family of bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey police officers five years ago, alleging their business was harassed and repeatedly ticketed because they are Muslim.
The 38-page civil rights complaint, filed by Mohammad Rahami and two sons, says that after the First American Fried Chicken restaurant opened in 2002, a neighbor began bothering the owners.
The man, identified in court papers as James McDermott, "repeatedly complained to police that plaintiffs' business was 'open' and commented to plaintiffs that 'you are Muslims,' that 'Muslims make too much trouble in this country,'" the lawsuit alleges.
McDermott, a freelance television cameraman, told NBC News, "it never happened." He said his dispute with the Rahamis was over staying open too late and had nothing to do with their religion or background.
In the lawsuit, the Rahamis accused McDermott of conspiring with Elizabeth, New Jersey, police officers to harass them. Even though the restaurant had an exemption to stay open past 10 p.m., the suit says, in 2009 police kept trying to shut it down early.
During one confrontation with police, the sons were arrested after they became upset and tried to record the conversation, the suit says.
One of the attorneys involved in the case said that the suit was repeatedly delayed while the elder Mohammad Rahami appealed his guilty plead to violating city ordinance governing opening times. Court records show the case was stayed by the judge in 2015.
The two sons in the lawsuit were identified as Mohammad K. Rahami and Mohammad Q. Rahami; sources told NBC News that the bombing suspect's legal name is Mohammad K. Rahami but he uses the name Ahmad.
An attorney who represented the family until withdrawing from the case last year did not return calls for comment.