The facts surrounding Rumain Brisbon’s death — the ones that could be agreed upon as of Wednesday evening — follow a narrative familiar to a nation still reeling from the racially charged police incidents in Ferguson, Mo., New York City and elsewhere.
In Phoenix on Tuesday evening, a white police officer who was feeling threatened used lethal force on an unarmed black man. The incident left the officer unharmed and Brisbon, 34, dead with two bullet wounds in his torso at a north Phoenix apartment complex.
Phoenix police quickly released a detailed account of the killing for the media on Wednesday morning in what officials said was an effort to promote transparency, especially in light of the unrest that has played out in Ferguson and New York City following the deaths of unarmed Black men at the hands of White officers. But portions of that account have already been challenged by some witnesses and community activists who say that the officer’s use of force was excessive and that Brisbon’s death was unwarranted.
Shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday, officers were in the area of Interstate 17 and Greenway Road for a burglary investigation when a resident of an apartment complex told them that men inside a black Cadillac SUV were engaged in a drug deal, said Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Police checked the license plate that the tipster provided and found it was registered to a resident in the 15,400 block of North 25th Avenue, where there was also a pending report of a “loud music disturbance.”
The loud-music call was canceled, so the officer went to the SUV to ask questions of those inside, Crump said.