Protesters took to the streets Thursday night after Arizona police continued to defend an unidentified officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man. Rumain Brisbon was delivering fast food to his children when he was shot in the torso two times after the officer confused a pill bottle for a gun.
A police spokesman, Sergeant Trent Crump, said the unidentified cop approached Brisbon, who was in an SUV, after residents in a Phoenix neighborhood reported a drug deal happening by the vehicle. The license plate on the SUV matched the plate belonging to a house that was reported for a loud music complaint. Brisbon got out of the vehicle and went to the back of the car, when the officer told him to show his hands. The suspect put his hands in his pockets instead, and began to run away when the officer drew his weapon. After the officer pursued Brisbon, the two struggled inside of a nearby apartment. Brisbon put his hand in his left pocket, and the officer believed he felt a gun in his grip.
The police officer shot the suspect twice. The only object in Brisbon’s pocket was a bottle of oxycodine pills. An unspecified weapon and marijuana were later found in the SUV.
“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,” said Crump. He also claims witnesses told law enforcement that Brisbon “was verbally challenging to the officer.”
Eyewitnesses told a different story. Brandon Dickerson was also in the SUV on Tuesday, and disputes Crump’s claim that there was a verbal altercation between Brisbon and the officer. “Who’s gonna argue with police?” he said. “He had no death wish [Tuesday].”
The incident comes on the heels of national outrage in response to police officers shooting unarmed black men with impunity. The same night Brisbon was killed, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo who was filmed chokeholding Eric Garner to death. A separate grand jury also chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown last week. The chairwoman of the African American Police Advisory Board for South Phoenix, Ann Hart, told NBC that the encounter with Brisbon adds to “the impression it’s open season for killing black men.”