NASHVILLE, TN — Once celebrated as an important step to repairing the fractious relationship between police and Nashville’s Kurdish community, the first Kurdish-American member of the Metro Nashville Police Department now faces 57 counts of official misconduct and allegations of ties to an infamous street gang.
The Davidson County grand jury indicted former Detective Jiyayi Suleyman April 27 and he was arrested Tuesday. Suleyman resigned from the force March 30 after MNPD began an internal investigation into the six-year veteran.
(For more updates on this story and free news alerts for your neighborhood, sign up for your local Middle Tennessee Patch morning newsletter.)
The indictment alleges that between September 2016 and November 2017, Suleyman accessed the Criminal Justice Portal System for "excessive inquiries" while he was off the clock and on his days off.
That echoes information from the MNPD investigation reported by WSMV last month.
According to a file obtained by WSMV, Suleyman illegally accessed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s computer system to check on members of the Kurdish Pride gang.
According to the file, Suleyman was seen hanging out with known gang members at House of Kabab, a popular hangout among the city’s Kurdish community, the largest in the world outside of Kurdistan.
Suleyman continued to associate with those gangsters even after they were arrested on gun and drug charges, according to WSMV. Investigators also found photos of Suleyman flashing the Kurdish Pride gang sign and wearing the group’s colors before he joined the force.
Suleyman, 29, fled Iraq with a family as a refugee in 1991 and, until the investigation, was highly regarded on the force and in the community at large, receiving praise in his evaluations and lauded by former Mayor Megan Barry in a January speech.
The sudden reversal on Suleyman has rankled members of the Kurdish community, according to the Nashville Scene, which reports that many feel like it simply reflects an ongoing belief in the MNPD that all young Kurdish-Americans have ties to Kurdish Pride, which at its height had between 20 to 30 members and was tied to numerous street crimes and two alleged rapes.
Jeger Ali, a Metro Nashville Public Schools family-involvement specialist, told the Scene that MNPD’s investigation shows a lack of understanding among department officials about the city’s minority groups and how members thereof associate with one another, while Drost Kokoye, a board member with the American Muslim Advisory Council, told the alt-weekly that MNPD may be using associations Suleyman had – associations once seen as a benefit to the department – against him.
Suleyman is free on $75,000 bail.
Photo via Tennessee Bureau of Investigation