Tearful Granite Falls mayor plans to sue port police over 'false arrest'

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GRANITE FALLS, Wash. —

The mayor of Granite Falls, who was jailed after a vocal confrontation with a family member at Sea-Tac Airport, tells KIRO 7 Eyewitness News he will sue airport police for false arrest.

 

Haroon Saleem, accused of threatening to kill his relatives at the airport, told reporter Gary Horcher that he's determined to fight the accusations that he says are outrageous and false.

 

"I worked very hard all my life for my reputation. I never cared about money or anything else. All I cared was my reputation, and be a good, law-abiding citizen. And this thing has tarnished my reputa…," Saleem said, overcome with emotion. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

 

Saleem was arrested by Port of Seattle police and jailed for allegedly threatening his niece and nephew at baggage claim Monday night.

 

Saleem said his 13-year-old daughter had been bullied by his niece and nephew during a trip to California.

 

"And she says, 'Daddy please help me get me out of here!'" he said. "She got beat up with a water bottle, and so she called me just crying and hysterical and couldn't even breathe."

 

Saleem said he confronted his relatives, who he says threatened to beat his daughter right there.

 

"So when I approached her and I said, 'Did you threaten to kick my daughter's ass?' She goes, 'Yes I did and I will!"

 

He said that in front of dozens of witnesses, he was assaulted and he said nothing.

 

"And then she pushed me -- twice. She pushed me, and there was a witness who saw she pushed me. I backed away."

 

Saleem said police arrested him despite a witness, who said, "'She's wrong. This gentleman did not do anything! She is the one who pushed him!' The police just told her to go away."

 

He said he'll be back in court in two days. The prosecutor has not decided whether or not to charge him.

 

He said he was treated poorly by a Port of Seattle officer and he intends to find justice.

 

The mayor has been the focus of controversy before, when a group confronted him when he was dismissing the police chief.