A former New York jail chaplain who was axed in 2010 after security officers at the Manhattan Detention Complex downtown found razor blades and scissors in his bag is now suing the city and the Department of Correction for at least $2 million, saying he was unfairly ousted because he is Muslim and black.
In the Manhattan Supreme Court suit filed Tuesday, Imam Zulqarnain Abdu-Shahid claims he thought he had surrendered the items as he left security at the jail, known as The Tombs, and was then “surprised” to find the contraband “had been placed” back in his satchel when he stopped by the locker room.
The 56-year-old father of three immediately returned to security to surrender the items, the papers say, but was promptly cuffed and paraded through the facility.
He was then arrested and charged with four felony counts of promoting prison contraband in the first degree, and four misdemeanor counts of promoting prison contraband in the second degree.
Following Abdu-Shahid’s arrest, a videotaped search of his room at the facility was conducted, the papers say.
On the recording, the corrections officer directing the search can be heard snidely asking if they might find “jihad” on some of the recovered tapes.
The Staten Island resident was later cleared of any wrongdoing by two grand juries, but was still terminated.
Abdu-Shahid charges that, during his 20 years as a chaplain for the facility, he “witnessed numerous fellow employees mistakenly bring through security items that were considered contraband.”
Abdu-Shahid — formerly named Paul Pitts — has done time himself, serving 14 years in prison for murder after he and three others held up a Harlem supermarket in 1976 and left a customer dead. He was also arrested on rape charges in the 1960s, but those charges were dismissed.
A spokesman with the city law department said they “will review the complaint.”
Why did he wait six years to wage his jihad?