On Wednesday June 28, 2017, the Phoenix City Council, in a 7-2 vote, made a decision to pay out 1.5 million taxpayer dollars to the family of Rumain Brisbon. Let’s call this what it is; a politically motivated payout. Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring opposed the settlement.
The fact of the matter is that, despite the unfortunate circumstances, the force used by the officer was deemed justifiable under the law. After being reviewed internally, the application of force was also found to comport with Department policy. Unfortunately it was Brisbon who made a series of bad decisions to include being in possession of a large bottle of prescription opioids (not prescribed to him), disobeying directives given by police, engaging in actions and behavior leading the officer to believe he had a concealed handgun and fighting with the officer to the point where the officer believed deadly force was necessary to protect his own life.
Rumain Brisbon was a previously convicted felon with multiple prior arrests and or convictions for assault, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, numerous traffic offenses, burglary, possession of marijuana, producing marijuana and felony DUI. He was the type not likely to comply with police directives on his best day. Despite Brisbon’s lengthy criminal record, the media chose to portray him as a loving father by continually running photos of him kissing a toddler in his arms. No one in the media seemed to be interested in Mr. Brisbon’s extensive criminal history or his Department of Corrections photo easily obtained on the internet. Its part and parcel of making criminals look like the good guys. What also doesn’t square is a city that doesn’t back its cops and agrees to large scale settlements when nothing wrong was done.
Sometimes being in the right is worth defending even if it costs money to take a stand and make the statement. A city that is willing to take a stand in support of its officers just might deter future litigation.
The City leaders who agreed to this payout are the same ones who lament the city’s financial condition when contract negotiations roll around and also balk at hiring needed officers because of the cost. 1.5 million dollars would pay for hiring another 10 police officers.
We fear that the Mayor and Council have set a new precedent. As a result, anytime a police officer engages in a lawful use of force, citizens will be lining up at the City of Phoenix cash cow looking for their payouts.
The City has sent a clear message to the rank and file cops who, daily, patrol our streets: Even when you’re right you’re wrong.
CLICK HERE to see Brisbon’s Dept of Corrections photo.
CLICK HERE to read the related AZCentral article.
CLICK HERE to listen to the interview on 550 KFYI with PLEA President Ken Crane.