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Man booted from CPD academy after injury appeals department’s decision not to rehire him

The state law preventing Majid Mustafa from rejoining the police academy has been amended to give trainees a second chance, but it doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020.

Majid Mustafa met with the Sun-Times Editorial Board on Jan. 9, 2019 during his bid for 50th Ward alderman. He dropped out before the general election. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A Rogers Park restaurant owner and former alderman’s staffer who was rejected twice in trying to become a Chicago Police officer is appealing the department’s decision.

Majid Mustafa, 37, made his first attempt in 2013 but dislocated his left thumb during a physical drill while in police academy training, according to his attorney, Tom Needham. Doctors ordered Mustafa to wear a splint, but he took it off when staff told him it wasn’t allowed.

Mustafa’s thumb had started to heal, but the injury was aggravated when his class was ordered to do extra pushups as punishment for several of his classmates failing the test, Needham said. Mustafa’s injury left him unable to shoot accurately, and he failed the firearms shooting test at the end of training.

Three days before graduation, the city fired Mustafa from the academy, Needham said.

Mustafa applied again in 2017 to become a police officer, but he was rejected when a background check found he had previously been terminated from the training academy, Needham said.

According to Needham, the city relied on a section of the Police Training Act mandating that anyone who starts police training must finish it within a set timeframe. That law has since been amended to grant applicants a second chance, but it doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. J.B. Pritker signed an amendment to the act on Aug. 2 that allows police academy trainees to have a second chance after a full year passes.

“If an agency again fails to train the individual a second time, the agency shall be permanently barred from employing this individual in a law enforcement capacity,” the amended law states.

Needham said Mustafa filed an appeal with the city’s Human Resources Board in May 2018, and a hearing was scheduled for the following year. Needham said Mustafa hopes the board will make an exception in light of this amendment so he can join the next police training academy.

”He’s ready to go,” Needham said. “Majid has already passed the physical test, psychological screening, drug testing and everything else. He has a FOID card and a concealed carry card. His thumb that was dislocated is 100%.”

Mustafa owns and manages JK Kabab House, a traditional Indian and Pakistani restaurant at 6412 N. Rockwell St. He was born in Saudi Arabia but moved here with his family when he was a child.

Mustafa also worked for several years as a staffer for former Ald. Bernie Stone (50th Ward). He announced a run for that aldermanic seat in 2019 but dropped out before the general election.

“There’s nothing anyone can say about Majid that would support the idea that he’s lacking some quality that a police officer needs,” Needham said. “It’s not like we’re arguing whether or not he’s honest, has a bad temper or judgment flaws. It’s just the unfortunate timing of this injury that caused this.”

Mustafa’s Human Resources Board hearing is set for 10 a.m. Monday at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St.

City officials did not respond to requests for comment.