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Even as civil unrest and social outrage about institutionalized racism has been reaching fever pitch domestically, young men are still being gunned down by police. Rumain Brisbon is just one of the most recent examples of how institutionalized racism and a drug war out of control have lead to callous disregard for the lives of a large portion of the population.
According to accounts by family and friends, 34-year-old Rumain Wilson was a loving, devoted father to his four children. Brisbon was killed by police on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014, in Phoenix, Arizona. Brisbon was in a black SUV, and officers claim they believed there was likely a drug deal going on inside. He was actually bringing some McDonald’s takeout to his children.
When confronted by an officer, Brisbon refused to comply with requests to get on the ground (which is not difficult to understand given recent events and the fact that he was likely not breaking the law in any way) and attempted to flee to the apartment where his children where. The officer claims Brisbon reached for his waistband, and that he pursued the fleeing Brisbon and an altercation resulted. During the scuffle, the officer felt a bottle of pills on Brisbon’s pocket and thought it was the handle of a gun.
The two ended up inside the apartment when the woman inside opened the door. There, inside the apartment with Brisbon’s nine- and two-year-old kids in the back room, the 30-year-old police officer felt that because he could not restrain Brisbon’s hands, he was justified in shooting the unarmed man twice. A neighbor, Martin Rangel, reports that he saw the officer run from the scene shouting, “Fuck, fuck,” after the shooting.
Brandon Dickerson, a friend who was in the SUV with Brisbon, insists that the officer didn’t approach them trying to talk, says he never heard his friend yell at the officer and claims Brisbon was in a fine mood, not the sort of state where suicide by police would seem a good idea.
Despite attempts to paint him as a criminal (he was serving five years of probation for a previous burglary charge and had a previous marijuana offense), family members insist that the pain medication was prescribed to him and that the small amount of marijuana found in his vehicle was legal, as Brisbon was a medical marijuana patient.
In a sick twist of irony, it appears that Brisbon had a firearm in his possession when he was approached by police but it remained in his vehicle. Unfortunately, that didn’t prevent him from being shot as though he were in fact armed and dangerous.
In response, Ann Hart, chairwoman of the African American Police Advisory Board for South Phoenix has said it seems to be “open season for killing black men.” Roughly 100 people protested outside of the Phoenix Police Department on Thursday, December 4th. Another rally and march was held last night at the Phoenix Elks Lodge, and more protests and events are sure to come. Readers can follow the Justice for Rumain Brisbon Facebook page here.
For previous Ladybud articles about institutionalized racism, click here.