The PPD Still Has Officer Clint Brookins Assigned to Patrol, and That's Not a Reassuring Thought

So here's a joke that was, until just recently, on the public Facebook page for Phoenix Police Officer Clint Brookins:

"How many cops does it take to get a suspect downstairs?"

"None, he fell."

The joke could be written off as dark humor, as could many of Brookins' other posts from 2010 to 2013.

"Tired as a motherfucker," he posted August 14, 2010. "Hope no one pushes my buttons. LMAO."

Earlier that year, the Iraq War veteran mentioned: "I woke up today having flashbacks. I was sweating, felt horrible. It hasn't affected me in a long time."

On September 15, 2010, he wrote: "What a nice day . . . I should kill something."

Brookins also admitted in the posts to not getting enough sleep and to anger issues.

"Have you ever just wanted to slap a bitch???" he wondered one day, later noting that "my woman calmed me down."

He stated that he was a sniper while in the Army. He also discussed being an avid hunter and posted a photo of himself in the wilderness with the body of a bighorn sheep he apparently had just killed.

In one post, he offered what you could call the sniper's version of the "serenity prayer":

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot shoot, the courage to shoot the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the rest."

On their own, Brookins' casual references to violence are disturbing for someone who regularly interacts with the public while on patrol.

They are even more disturbing given that on April 20, 2013, Brookins shot and killed 22-year-old Zachariah Pithan as Pithan struggled with three other officers on the floor of his Phoenix apartment.

Brookins told investigators that Pithan had been swinging a wooden stick at one of the other officers. Fearing for the safety of his colleague, he utilized deadly force, shooting Pithan twice at close range, killing him instantly.

In the police report, released about a month after the incident, the other officers present did not mention a stick in Pithan's hand.

There were wooden spindles on the floor of the apartment. In photos taken of them by Phoenix police, they do not look particularly menacing.

Two officers initially believed that Brookins had deployed his Taser. One officer actually yelled in surprise when he heard the gunshots.

The cops were present because there had been reports of a "possible fight" and erratic behavior on Pithan's part, of him threatening neighbors and kicking apartment doors, spouting bizarre non sequiturs.

When the cops went to his door, which was open, Pithan supposedly stuck his arm out, and one of the officers grabbed it. The cops say Pithan pulled the officer into the apartment, and the struggle ensued.

Three officers had their hands on Pithan when Brookins fired the fatal shots.

The incident now is the subject of a federal lawsuit, brought by Pithan's mom, Cleo Daily, and his father, Tracy Pithan.

The lawsuit alleges that the Phoenix Police Department ignored red flags associated with Brookins and that Brookins was involved in other questionable uses of force.

The suit claims that, according to the PPD's own records, "Officer Brookins failed a psychological exam in connection with his application to become a police officer at another police department in Arizona."

Filed a couple of days before the one-year anniversary of Pithan's killing, the complaint does not cite Brookins' Facebook rants.

I found those on my own, but the attorney for Pithan's parents knows of them, and I believe the PPD has been aware of them. Or should have been.

Indeed, Brookins complains about a "rat" in one post and of having to deal with an "NOI," which could be read as a Notice of Investigation.

An NOI is what a police officer receives when he or she is under investigation by the department.

Spokesmen for the Phoenix Police Department would not comment on any internal investigations that have been done or are in progress over the Pithan shooting or over these Facebook posts.

I reached out to Brookins both through Facebook and via phone. He did not reply directly, but I received an indirect reply from PPD spokesman Steve Martos, who e-mailed me, saying he had been "advised you've made several attempts to talk with Brookins by phone and Facebook."

Martos informed me that neither Brookins nor anyone else at the department would comment on the issues I raised.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons