A white Phoenix police officer used lethal force on an unarmed Black man Tuesday night. The incident left the officer unharmed and Brisbon, 34, dead.
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, AZCentral.com reports.
Shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday, officers were in the area 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.
The officer said the driver, later identified as Brisbon, got out and appeared to be removing something from the rear of the SUV. The officer told Brisbon to show his hands, but Brisbon stuffed his hands into his waistband, Crump said.
The officer drew his weapon and Brisbon ran toward nearby apartments, Crump said. A short foot chase ensued.
Brisbon refused to comply with the officer's commands to get on the ground, and the two struggled once the officer caught up with him, Crump said. "During the struggle, Brisbon put his left hand in his pocket and the officer grabbed onto the suspect's hand, while repeatedly telling the suspect to keep his hand in his pocket," he said. "The officer believed he felt the handle of a gun while holding the suspect's hand in his pocket."
The officer could no longer keep a grip on Brisbon's hand and, because he feared that the suspect had a gun in his pocket, fired two shots, Crump said.
The item in Brisbon's pocket turned out to be a bottle of oxycodone pills, he said.
"Let's be very clear: The officer was doing what we expect him to do, which is investigate crimes that neighbors are telling him are occurring in that part of the complex."
Crump said the department was not identifying the officer, a 30-year-old with seven years on the force.