Cop Mistakes Pill Bottle for Gun and Another Black Man Dies

The cop who shot and killed an African-American man in Phoenix, Arizona last week after mistaking a prescription bottle in his pocket for a gun has been named, according to Reuters

According to the Arizona Republic, friends and family said 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon was dropping off food at his family's apartment when he was confronted by a police officer. Officer Mark Rine, 30, is a seven-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department. Police say that Brisbon had a criminal record and was in the middle of a drug deal. According to the Washington Post:

The events that led to Brisbon’s death began with a tip, Phoenix police spokesman Trent Clump told reporters on Wednesday. The tipster said that a drug deal was going down inside a black Cadillac SUV parked near a 7-Eleven. So a nearby 30-year-old officer, who wasn’t named by police, responded to the call, later approaching the car, reported the Arizona Republic.

Clump claimed the officer saw Brisbon exit the car and remove something from its rear. When the officer asked Brisbon to show his hands, the man allegedly put them in his waistband. That prompted the officer to draw his weapon, and Brisbon took off running. “Witnesses indicated to us that the suspect was verbally challenging to the officer,” the Arizona Republic quoted Crump saying.

Attorney Marci Kratter, who represented Brisbon in a prior DUI case, told the Washington Post that the cops "murdered my client" and that their account doesn't add up. “What the police say happened, it doesn’t make any sense at all," he said. "There’s something not right with it.”

Numerous witnesses also challenge the cops' version of events, according to reports.

Brisbon somehow made it to the house of his girlfriend who opened the door. Both Brisbon and Rine stumbled inside, according to reports. During the struggle, Rine believed he felt the handle of a gun, Clump said. Rine claims Brisbon was reaching for what he thought was a gun and grabbed his left hand. At some point, Rine fired two fatal shots. It was only after shooting Brisbon that Rine realized the man was not carrying a gun; it was a a prescription pill vial containing Oxycodone pills. 

The Phoenix Police Department says Rine acted appropriately, though his attorney, Kratter, doesn't agree.  

“I’m not sure why a lone police officer would have felt the need to go in there,” Kratter told the Post. “If the officer felt a pill bottle and believed it was a butt of a handgun, it calls into question his competence because I don’t know anyone who can mistake a plastic bottle for a butt of a gun. How much larger is a gun than a pill bottle?”

Brandon Dickerson told the Republic that he was in the car with Brisbon before the shooting and saw some of what happened. He said Brisbon was not yelling at Rine, nor did the officer try to speak with him.

“Who’s gonna argue with police?” Dickerson said. “He had no death wish.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.