EVANSTON — The second of two men arrested in November 2018 following a traffic stop that resulted in injury to an Evanston police officer has been sentenced to two to six years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary. Abideen Musa was sentenced during an appearance in Third District Court on Thursday, July 25.
Abideen and his older brother, Akeem Musa, were arrested on Nov. 11, 2018, after a routine traffic stop for failing to yield at an intersection escalated into a confrontation with police officers. During the initial traffic stop EPD Sgt. Justin George detected the odor of marijuana in the vehicle and asked the men to exit the car, which they refused to do.
Additional officers arrived on scene and, following a several-minute confrontation, officers opened driver and passenger side doors and attempted to forcibly remove the two men. Abideen, who was driving, then attempted to flee the scene and began driving away while officers were still in contact with the car. While other officers were able to get clear of the moving vehicle, Officer Zachary Marler was not and was forced to run alongside the vehicle as it accelerated and turned on to an I-80 on-ramp.
Eventually Marler was able to get a foot onto the brake and stop the vehicle, and the two Musa brothers were ordered from the vehicle at gunpoint. A subsequent search of the vehicle yielded approximately 25 pounds of marijuana, paraphernalia, plastic bags, a machete and a firearm.
Marler suffered bruising and other painful injuries in the incident.
Both men were charged with felony interference with a peace officer and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Abideen, as the driver, was also charged with fleeing or attempting to elude police officers.
Akeem, who had an extensive criminal history, was sentenced to four to six years of incarceration as the result of a plea agreement. During a change of plea hearing in late April, Abideen entered guilty pleas to the charges of interfering and attempting to elude and a plea of no contest to a reduced charge of possession of a controlled substance as part of a plea agreement with the Uinta County Attorney’s Office.
During that emotional April hearing, Abideen’s parents and brothers spoke on his behalf, describing Abideen as a loving brother who had been influenced by his older sibling, Akeem. The family members not only asked for leniency for Abideen but spent a significant amount of time apologizing and thanking Evanston police officers for showing professionalism and restraint during the confrontation, which family members said could have resulted in officers opening fire on the brothers.
Those comments were referenced and echoed during the July 25 sentencing hearing, when Judge Joseph Bluemel said if the incident had occurred in other parts of the country, particularly Chicago where the family was raised, the brothers would likely have been shot and killed.
Abideen addressed the court prior to sentencing, telling Bluemel he wished they could have met under different circumstances and apologizing to his own family, police officers and all the citizens of Uinta County.
“It hurts to have this on my name and my family name,” he said, describing the scene that November night as one in which he was surrounded by officers and police dogs, with his brother urging him to flee, and he panicked. “I’m truly sorry,” he said.
Bluemel said he, too, wished he had met Abideen and the entire family under better circumstances, noting the obvious love the family members have for one another and the multiple times his parents and brothers have visited Evanston to attend court hearings. These comments were similar to those made by Bluemel at the April hearing, when he said, “You have given me a picture of a family you should be proud to be a part of.”
Bluemel accepted the plea agreement and the recommendation of Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas for a sentence of two to six years for the interfering charge and one to three years for the possession charge, to run concurrently. Additional financial penalties of approximately $8,000 were also imposed.
In addition, Bluemel said he was going to recommend Abideen be considered for any alternative corrections programs for which he may be eligible. Such a program would function like a halfway house and would allow for greater opportunities to work while incarcerated.