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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Rumain Brisbon Police-Involved Shooting Case

     At six in the evening of Tuesday December 2, 2014 officers with the Phoenix Police Department were investigating a burglary in the city's north side when a resident of an apartment complex nearby reported that men inside a Cadillac SUV were selling drugs near the apartment building.

     When one of the officers approached the suspect vehicle the driver, 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon, jumped out of the SUV and ran toward the apartment complex. (Brisbon had a burglary conviction conviction and was on probation. He was married and had four children.)

     The 30-year-old police officer, Mark Rine, had seven years on the force. He chased Brisbon and caught up to him outside the apartment building. The subject, with a hand stuffed into his waistband, refused to comply with the officer's commands to drop to the ground.

     Brisbon's refusal to obey the officers orders led to a scuffle. During the struggle Mr. Brisbon stuck his left hand into his pant pocket. Officer Rine grabbed for that hand and felt what he thought was a concealed handgun. As the officer and Brisbon fought they banged against a door and tumbled into the apartment building.

     Inside the apartment, when the police officer lost his grip on Brisbon's left hand, he feared that the man he was struggling with would pull a gun and shoot him. It was at that point the officer used his pistol to shoot Brisbon twice in the torso, killing him on the spot.

     As it turned out, Rumain Brisbon had not been armed. The object in his left pocket that concerned officer Rine was a bottle of oxycodone pills. (Brisbon had apparently been selling these pills out of his SUV and did not want to return to prison on a probation violation.)

      Assuming this police account of the confrontation and shooting were accurate, the officer's use of deadly force in this case was justified. On these facts it was doubtful that a local prosecutor would even present this case to a grand jury.

     Marci Kratter, the Phoenix attorney who represented RumainBrisbon in a 2009 DUI case, and was now representing the Brisbon family, told reporters she didn't believe the police version of the shooting was complete. "There are numerous witnesses," she said, "that will challenge the police officer's account of what happened." 

     Phoenix police spokesperson Trent Crump in addressing the media said, "The officer was doing what we expect him to do, which was to investigate crimes that neighbors were telling them are occurring."
     In April 2015 the Maricopa County Prosecutor's Office announced that Officer Rine would not be criminally charged in the shooting death of Rumain Brisbon.

     The Phoenix Police Department, in June 2017, decided to pay Brisbon's family $1.5 million pursuant to a court settlement agreement.

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