NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A former Metro police officer once praised for being the first Kurdish-American in the local force was a member of the Kurdish Pride Gang, according to internal investigation files.
Jiyayi Suleyman, age 29, resigned from the police department in late March amid an ongoing investigation into possible misuse of governmental records.
On Tuesday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced he was indicted on more than 50 counts of official misconduct.
He allegedly used the Criminal Justice Portal System for "excessive inquiries on his days off, and after hours" between September 2016 and November 2017.
Personnel files revealed that Suleyman frequented House of Kabob on Thompson Lane where people were allegedly a part of the illegal sales of narcotics and firearms.
A search warrant at a well-known KPG gang member's home found pictures of Suleyman "participating in gang activities," which included hand signs and wearing clothes associated with being a gang member.
Between 2013 and 2015, he's also accused of looking into 12 members of the KPG using the Tennessee Information Enforcement Systems while there were no active cases.
In addition, phone records obtained showed frequent communication with well known KGP members.
Investigation files stated Suleyman "had knowledge of day to day operations of the individuals inside this business [House of Kabob] to include the narcotic and weapons sale."
NewsChannel 5 tried to speak with the owner of House of Kabob, but no one was available.
Police stated he never disclosed his association with the gang during his employment application.
One of his longtime friends said the Kurdish community in Nashville is standing by him and felt the charges were not warranted.
"We feel it is a bit of a reach. It's absurd. He's a police officer, and he wore the badge. There's no gang activity," Halmat Qazi told NewsChannel 5.
Suleyman became an officer in 2012 and moved up to become a detective. That same year, a civil lawsuit was filed against KPG and 24 of its alleged local members asking that they collectively be declared a public nuisance.
"We're here for him, and we support him 100 percent," Qazi added. "We're Kurds. We stick together and support him, and it just makes us stronger."
Prior to his arrest, Suleyman was highly recognized by the police department for his work as a detective.
In one of several letters in 2017, Chief Steve Anderson recognized Suleyman for helping stop a heroin distribution ring and making multiple arrests in December.
In January of 2017, then Mayor Megan Barry touted Suleyman's accomplishments, reminding government officials that refugees have a positive impact on Metro Nashville.
Suleyman was arrested on 57 charges and remained booked in the Davidson County Jail on a $75,000 bond as of Wednesday afternoon.