The Phoenix police union says Rumain Brisbon, the unarmed Phoenix resident who was fatally shot by a Phoenix police officer earlier this month, had the choice to live.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association issued a lengthy press release rationalizing the shooting, which it normally doesn't do.
"Mr. Brisbon had the choice to live that evening," part of the union's statement says. "Mr. Brisbon knew he was engaged in illegal activity and likely knew he would stand a good chance of returning to prison if arrested. It was Mr. Brisbon who elected to disobey repeated commands, run from the police, fight with police, resist any efforts to detain him and engage in further behavior leading the officer to believe he was armed. Had Rumain Brisbon simply submitted to lawful authority there would have been no arguments, no physical altercation and most importantly, the situation would not have escalated to the point where lethal force would have been needed to control the situation."
Brisbon was fatally shot on December 2 at an apartment complex after a scuffle with a Phoenix police officer who was investigating a drug-dealing complaint. Police say the officer thought Brisbon was reaching for a gun in his pocket, although he turned out to be unarmed.
According to police, the confrontation between the officer and Brisbon came about after the officer was told by a witness that people in a black Cadillac SUV were selling drugs at nearby 7-Eleven store. The officer ran the license plate number, and the address came back to an apartment complex where, separately, someone had made a noise complaint to police.
Police the officer planned to deal with the noise complaint first, then check out the complaint about the Cadillac.
The radio call for the noise complaint was canceled by the time the officer got there, but the officer spotted the black SUV and called for backup, police say.
At that point, Brisbon got out of the SUV and opened a back door, apparently taking something out of the vehicle. The officer told Brisbon to put up his hands, but Brisbon ran instead, police say.
The officer told investigators that when he was in the physical struggle with Brisbon, he thought he felt the butt of a gun in Brisbon's pocket, which led to the officer shooting Brisbon, according to police.
The officer had lost his grip on Brisbon's hand shortly after the two literally stumbled into an apartment when an occupant opened the door. The occupant was later discovered to be Brisbon's girlfriend, who had her 2- and 9-year-old kids in a back bedroom. The object in Brisbon's pocket was a vial of pills.
The lengthy press release (which is embedded at the bottom of this post) undoubtedly was released to address subsequent protests of the killing, which have not only come about because of Brisbon being unarmed, but also because Brisbon was black, and the officer who shot him, Mark Rine, is white.
"Officer Rine did not start his shift on December 2nd, with the intent of shooting someone, let alone with the intent of targeting someone because of their race," the statement says. PLEA president Joe Clure didn't return New Times' call or e-mail requesting comment on this story.
The PLEA press release takes aim at Reverend Jarrett Maupin, who has been leading demonstrations against the police department, with the backing of Brisbon's family.
"...[I]ssues confronting the community at large cannot be constructively addressed when self-anointed "civil rights leaders" such as the Reverend Jared (sic) Maupin are out in public trying their best to turn Phoenix into another Ferguson," the statement says.
Maupin tells New Times the phrases he's quoted as saying were taking out of context, and says he was channeling Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," and were part of a larger point he was making.
"I think the PLEA press release is an example of the politics of distraction and a case study, in racial insensitivity," Maupin says.
Officer Rine has been reassigned to a "non-enforcement duty" pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the police department.
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