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Muslim prison guard fired for allegedly filing false report

Matthias Müller

A Connecticut prison guard has been fired after an investigation found he fabricated a complaint about being the target of anti-Muslim harassment at work.

The Correction Department confirmed Tuesday that Officer Shem Brijbalis was terminated on April 7 for violating the department's "policies and directives related to harassment and unprofessional behavior."

The department began an investigation in May 2021 after Brijbilas filed a complaint about a fake incident report found inside the Cheshire Correctional Institution that included numerous racial slurs and references to white supremacy.

Brijbilas said he was targeted by the document, which was made to look as if he had written it.

Part of it reads, "The white man has done so much for us People that we need to shut up and take what is given without complaints."

The incident led to calls for a hate crimes investigation from the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"The embarrassment I feel is indescribable and at no point do I feel safe in such a volatile and hateful work environment and I am concerned for my safety and mental health wellbeing," Brijbilas wrote at the time.

But in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, the Correction Department said its own investigation found that Brijbilas "did not unknowingly come upon an offensive document while working at the Cheshire Correctional Institution — rather, it was determined, he created the document and left it in a public area, where it was found."

The Department said it also found that Brijbalis made false statements to both the Correction Department and police.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Efforts to reach Brijbalis on Tuesday were not successful. Neither he nor his attorney replied to emails seeking comment and a phone number linked to him was no longer in service.

Farhan Memon, the chairman of Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he did not know enough about the investigation to comment on Brijbalis' firing.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.