A friend who was with an unarmed black man killed by a white Phoenix police officer on Tuesday said cops are misleading the public about how the shooting unfolded and accused police of papering over their mistakes by focusing on details that hurt his friend’s reputation.
Rumain Brisbon, 34, died Tuesday after being shot twice by an officer who police said thought Brisbon had a gun. The fatal encounter started, according to police, when Brisbon fled from his Cadillac SUV into an apartment after an officer tried questioning him about possible drug-dealing from the vehicle.
But that’s not how the killing really happened, said Brandon Dickerson, Brisbon’s friend who was in the SUV when the unnamed officer pulled the trigger around 6 p.m.
“They murdered my friend,” Dickerson said. The officer “just jumped the gun and killed my friend in cold blood and they’re covering up. I hate things to be so political.but, unfortunately, it is. It’s another Ferguson. It’s another Eric Garner,” Dickerson said by phone on Friday. “It’s another incident of police using excessive force.”
Police said it appeared Brisbon took something from the rear of SUV when he got out. The officer drew his weapon, saying Brisbon reached into the waistband of his pants. The two struggled and the cop fired, believing Brisbon had a gun, but which turned out to be a vial of pills.
Dickerson told HuffPost that the officer didn’t approach the SUV before the shooting and that Brisbon had already hopped out to bring food from McDonald’s to his daughter. Dickerson was unaware that a cop was nearby, let alone struggling with Brisbon, until he heard a yell followed quickly by a gunshot.
“I never saw the police coming. They said they approached the vehicle. That was not the case,” Dickerson said.
Brisbon had previous convictions for burglary and marijuana, according to the Arizona Republic. He had been arrested in October on suspicion of driving under the influence, the newspaper said.
Inside the SUV, police found a jar of marijuana. Brisbon had a medical marijuana permit, according to the Rev. Jarret Maupin, who told HuffPost he spoke to Brisbon’s friends and family. Because of privacy protections, the Arizona Department of Health Services said it cannot confirm or deny if Brisbon was allowed to have medical pot.
“What the hell is the point of mentioning the pot if you’re not going to tell the whole story,” Maupin told HuffPost. “What you find in the car, even if it were four bales of pot, had nothing to do with the assault outside the car.”
Police said they found a gun inside the Cadillac.
Dickerson said police revealed these details to offset public anger about the killing of an unarmed African-American.
The gun “wasn’t on him. That’s just something they saw at the end to point to,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson said he and Brisbon became friends in 2010, when Brisbon helped Dickerson get a job at a call center. “He was not what they are painting him to be. He loved his little girls. This is not a stone-cold felon. They took somebody who was a real good person away.”
Phoenix police declined to elaborate about the shooting.
“We are not releasing any additional information on the case. The case will be turned over to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office who was on scene the night of the shooting,” Sgt. Trent Crump said in an email. “They make the final decisions on justifications for use of force.”
Controversy clouds Brisbon’s autopsy as well. On Friday, Brisbon’s mother was trying to delay her son’s autopsy. Nora Brisbon wanted an expert who works with the family’s attorney to view the examination. But when Maricopa County Superior Court rejected her request, the autopsy went ahead, according to The Associated Press.
About 150 people demonstrated on Thursday night over Brisbon’s killing. Another protest was scheduled for Friday.