Phoenix officer shoots unarmed black suspect

by Staff, |

PHOENIX (Christian Examiner) -- A Phoenix patrolman shot to death an unarmed black man during a struggle in the latest fatal incident amid national turmoil over the policing of black communities. Authorities said the officer believed the individual had a gun.

The Phoenix Police Department said Rumain Brisbon, 34, was sitting in a black Cadillac SUV outside a convenience store on Tuesday evening, and that two witnesses told the officer the occupants of the vehicle were selling drugs.

With police forces across the country under increased scrutiny over killings of unarmed black men, Phoenix police said in a statement that the officer called for backup, and then saw Brisbon appear to remove something from the car's back seat.

The seven-year veteran of the department gave the suspect several commands to show his hands, before Brisbon "placed one or both hands in his waistband area" and then fled, according to officials. He caught up with Brisbon and during a struggle the policeman believed he felt the handle of a gun while holding the individual's hand in his pocket.

"The officer gave the suspect several commands to get on the ground but he refused to comply, yelling profanities at the officer," said the official statement released on Wednesday.

At that point a resident opened an apartment door, both men stumbled into her home, and the officer said he was unable to keep a grip on the suspect's hand.

"Fearing Brisbon had a gun in his pocket the patrolman fired two rounds striking Brisbon in the torso."

The police department said back-up officers arrived after the shooting, and while they and members of the fire department treated Brisbon, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said Brisbon was carrying a vial of oxycodone pills, and that a semi-automatic handgun and a jar of what is believed to be marijuana were found in the SUV. The 30-year-old officer was not injured during the incident, the statement added.

The shooting in Phoenix comes at a tense time between U.S. law enforcement departments and the communities in which they operate. Two grand juries decided not to indict officers who killed unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in New York City, respectively, triggering racially charged protests throughout the United States.