FAIRFAX, Va. — Fairfax County prosecutors on Thursday dropped criminal charges against a Virginia man who was shown on video hurling insults at a Muslim cabdriver in the days after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh said after Thursday’s brief court hearing that an investigation revealed discrepancies in taxi driver Mohamed Salim’s claim that a beating took place off camera and left him with a broken jaw and a concussion.
Specifically, Morrogh said the timing of the 911 call placed by Salim, of Great Falls, made it impossible for the beating to have occurred when and how Salim described.
“We have enough trouble in the world without inventing things,” Morrogh said outside the courthouse after the hearing.
Salim, for his part, said prosecutors never reviewed the timeline with him before opting to drop the case against passenger Ed Dahlberg. Salim said the beating was not recorded because he turned off the video camera application of his cellphone to call 911.
“This is outrageous,” said Salim, a naturalized citizen from Somalia and an Iraq war veteran, after the hearing. “I’m really disappointed with the way prosecutors handled it. If this is not a hate crime, God forbid, what’s a hate crime?”
Salim’s lawyer, Gadeir Abbas with the Council on American-Islamic relations, said he expects Salim will eventually file a civil lawsuit but first plans to seek a federal hate crime charge.
Salim said he recorded the April 26 encounter after he had to tell Dahlberg he couldn’t drink a beer inside the cab and it started to become hostile. At one point in the video, Dahlberg tells Salim that if he’s a Muslim, he’s a jihadist. Salim also says Dahlberg made remarks comparing him to the Boston Marathon bombers.
The video doesn’t show the part of the alleged assault in which Salim says his jaw was broken.
Dahlberg, an aviation executive from Clifton, who had been facing a charge of misdemeanor assault, declined to comment after Thursday’s hearing. His lawyer, John Zwerling, said Salim knew that his passenger was wealthy — he picked him up at a country club — and goaded him into a confrontation in hopes he could file a civil lawsuit.
“This is all about money,” Zwerling said. “Hopefully this nightmare has ended for Mr. Dahlberg.”
Zwerling said Dahlberg “used some profane language and that’s unfortunate.”
Morrogh said he does not condone the insulting language that Dahlberg used on the video, but said the insults themselves are not a crime.
Morrogh said he is considering filing a false report charge against Salim.
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