Rumain Brisbon, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday night.
In a string of cases involving unarmed black men dying at the hands of officers the last several months, another incident hits news.
According to a report published by USA Today, an officer in Phoenix says he felt threatened by 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon, so he used lethal force. The encounter led to Brisbon getting shot twice and dying from his gunshot wounds at a north Phoenix apartment complex.
A “detailed account” of what resulted in Brisbon’s death was released by the police department. The police department’s account is being argued by some witnesses and community activists, nonetheless. Those people are saying the officer’s force was “excessive” and that Brisbon’s death was “unwarranted.”
Phoenix Police spokesman, Sgt. Trent Crump, describes how the scene unfolded.
Just prior to 6 p.m. Tuesday night, a resident of an apartment complex called police to tell them that men were spotted in a black Cadillac SUV working out some type of drug deal. When police looked up the license plate the caller gave them, they found it was registered to a resident at the 15,400 block of North 25th Avenue, where a pending report of a “loud music disturbance” was on record. The “loud music” call was cancelled. When the officer reached the complex, he approached the SUV to question the men. As the account by Crump suggests, the officer says the driver — who was Brisbon — looked like he was removing something from the back of the SUV. When the officer asks the man to show his hands, he put them into his waistband and that’s when the officer drew his gun. Brisbon ran toward nearby apartments and the officer chased after him. Crump says witnesses claim the suspect was being verbally aggressive.
“Witnesses indicated to us that the suspect was verbally challenging to the officer.”
Brisbon allegedly refused to adhere with the officer’s demands to get on the ground, and a struggled ensued when the officer caught up with him. Crump adds that the officer thought he felt a gun in the suspect’s pocket during the struggle.
“During the struggle, Brisbon put his left hand in his pocket and the officer grabbed onto the suspect’s hand, while repeatedly telling the suspect to keep his hand in his pocket. The officer believed he felt the handle of a gun while holding the suspect’s hand in his pocket.”
The officer and suspect’s struggle was near a woman’s apartment door. When she opened it, the pair “tumbled inside,” Crump says. There were two children in the back bedroom.
At that point, the police officer was unable to “keep a grip on Brisbon’s hand” and feared he had a gun in his pocket. That’s when he fired two shots.
The items in Rumain Brisbon’s pocked wound up being a bottle of oxycodone pills, Crump explains.
Crump said the officers are aware how sensitive this case is, and are requesting that the community allow investigators to gather all the facts.
The police spokesman asserts that the police care very much about how citizens view their role in the community.
“I would like to think that in our officer-involved shootings, that we are transparent as we can be as an organization. We always have been and always will be concerned about what it is that our residents think about our role in this community and the levels of force that we use.
“Let’s be very clear: The officer was doing what we expect him to do, which is investigate crimes that neighbors are telling him are occurring in that part of the complex.”
Crump says the police department will not identify the officer involved in the shooting. What’s known about the officer is that he’s 30-years-old and has been on the force for seven years. He cautions that most police investigations have varying witness accounts and that this one is no different.
A resident who lives upstairs at the apartment complex where the shooting occurred, said he heard banging and then a gunshot. Martin Rangel gives his account of what he saw that night.
“It was so loud, I heard the vibration through the floor. I ran to the window, and that’s when I saw the cop running out, or like, walking out, and he was cussing, you know, he was screaming, ‘F–k, f–k,’ like upset that he shot the guy.”
As Color Lines reports, the man inside the Cadillac SUV with Rumain Brisbon before the shooting was Brandon Dickerson. He claims Brisbon was dropping off fast food to his kids at the apartment. French fries were seen around the front porch Wednesday evening.
Dickerson says the officer didn’t try speaking with Brisbon. He adds that Brisbon wasn’t shouting at the officer. Dickerson doesn’t see why anyone would argue with a police officer and that Brisbon “had no death wish” that day.
USA Today includes a statement from an attorney who has represented Brisbon in a DUI case she took on with him in the past. Marci Kratter is now defending Brisbon’s family, and doesn’t feel the entire police account is correct because a lot of witnesses challenge the police officer’s story. She has put investigators on the scene to decide if a civil wrongful death suit is needed.
“Tonight, four children are missing their father, a woman is missing her husband and a mother is missing her son. t was a senseless tragedy. He was unarmed and not a threat to anyone. We intend to pursue this to the full extent of the law.”
Jarrett Maupin, a civil rights activist, was at the scene Wednesday, and says he’s been in contact with Brisbon’s family. He isn’t buying the police’s account of how things unfolded Tuesday night in the shooting. He says the “statements given to me by neighbors, friends and family members are in direct contrast to what has been disseminated by the Phoenix Police Department.”
Brisbon was serving a five-year probation sentence due to a burglary conviction in 1998. He was shot and spent months in the hospital. Not all of the details are confirmed yet, but court records say the man was on “a self-destructive path due to his emotional state” following the shooting. He was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence two times in 2009 and once in October of that year. His record indicates he also had a marijuana conviction.
Karl Gentles, the public policy chairman of the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce, and wants the police and city officials to get solid facts involved in the Rumain Brisbon shooting.
“There has to be some additional communication, dialogue, training, about how black males are perceived. Because, as you see from other incidents, black males are feared with unfound reason in many cases, and there is an explicit overreaction in dealing with African-American males that leads to these contentious situations.”
Ann Hart, the chairwoman of the African-American Police Advisory for South Phoenix, describes this latest incident of an unarmed black man being shot and killed by a police officer as “open season for killing black men.” She says it’s important to know why officers feel “compelled to shoot and kill as opposed to apprehend and detain, arrest and jail.”
Will the death of Rumain Brisbon be protested in Phoenix?
[Photo Credit: Rumain Brisbon’s family via USA Today]