WORCESTER, Mass. — A Portland, Maine, police officer arrested at a recent concert at the Palladium was arraigned Thursday in a Worcester courthouse on charges that included assault and battery and resisting arrest.

Not-guilty pleas were entered by the court on her behalf, and Zahra Munye Abu did not speak during the brief court appearance.

Abu, 24, was charged at a Jan. 13 Ja Rule concert at the Palladium on Main Street after she allegedly began acting unruly, grabbed the head of security by the front of his shirt and refused to leave when asked to do so by security.

In a report filed in court, Worcester police said the 5-foot-2, 130-pound officer was acting aggressively toward concert hall staff and allegedly pushed her way through the crowd, “physically assaulting several customers.” Told by security and police that her behavior was unacceptable and she was “no longer welcome on the property,” Abu was asked to leave “two to three dozen times,” according to the report.

Officer Christopher Grilli wrote that after being told she was under arrest, Abu “tensed her body and tried to pull away from us in an effort to evade arrest. She squirmed around and tried to free herself from the handcuffs,” he wrote.

The report alleges that Abu swore at police, questioned their training and time in service and “refused to cease her profanity-laced comments toward staff.” Outside, as officers waited for a patrol wagon to take Abu to police headquarters, she allegedly moved toward another patron and said, “They’re racial profiling, I see you there, girl,” according to court documents.


On Thursday, accompanied by her lawyer, Michael H. Erlich, Abu was arraigned on charges of assault and battery, resisting arrest, trespassing, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

Assistant District Attorney Dannon T. Stacer did not request cash bail, but asked that Abu be ordered to stay away from the Palladium. Judge Robert J. Pellegrini released Abu on personal recognizance and ordered that she remain away from the club. The judge continued her case to March 12.

Abu gained widespread media and community attention two years ago when she became the first member of Maine’s Somali community to be sworn in as a police officer.

Abu was born in Kenya, where her Somali-born parents were living in a refugee camp, and moved to Maine when she was 2 years old. She attended college and studied criminal justice and women-and-gender issues at the University of Southern Maine before joining the Portland Police Department in 2016.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said Officer Abu has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal review.

After the arraignment, she and her lawyer declined to comment on the allegations against her. A call to Erlich Thursday afternoon was not returned.

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