One of two New York City Police officers involved in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Kimani Gray was forced to refuse an award naming him "Cop of The Year" last week after community leaders and civil rights advocates protested the controversial selection.
Sgt. Mourad Mourad, who is still under an internal investigation for the shooting, declined the offer just days prior to the NYPD Muslim Officers Society's annual awards ceremony on Thursday.
The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition had urged the group to rescind the honor:
"In light of the serious issues surrounding Sergeant Mourad, we find it unconscionable that he would be considered for an award," the letter read. "Furthermore, the Muslim community is a community that stands up for the civil rights of others and is sensitive to the plight of marginalized communities who suffer the abuses of the NYPD."
The Daily News first reported in April that Mourad was slated to received the award. One member of the Muslim police group, fellow officer Lt. Adeel Rana, cited Mourad's "active" commitment to the department as a reason for the honor.
But the president of the NYPD's Sergeants Benevolent Association, Sgt. Ed Mullins, said it was not in the "best interest" for Mourad to accept the award, though he maintained Mourad "is not guilty of wrongdoing."
In March 2013, Mourad and his partner Jovaniel Cordova, who were both in plainclothes, shot and killed Gray on his way to a birthday party in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. The officers said they opened fire after they saw Gray point a weapon at them.
Witnesses, however, have contested that account, saying Gray was never armed. Following the shooting, it was revealed both Mourad and Cordova were the subject of three federal lawsuits for alleged civil rights violations under the department's strop-and-frisk program.
Gray's death sparked a week of large riots across Brooklyn.
Mourad was temporarily put on administrative duties, but neither officer involved in the shooting has been charged with a crime.
In April, Gray's family filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD.