The mother and girlfriend of Rumain Brisbon, a black man killed by a white police officer Tuesday night in Phoenix, do not want the ensuing narrative to focus on race. Nora Brisbon, the victim’s mother, who is black, and Dana Klinger, his girlfriend, who is white, agreed that they want people to center on who the victim was as a person.
Klinger said, “This had nothing to do with race. This is about Rumain and the wrong that was done to him, and I want people to focus on that. If they want to rally, let’s support him positively.” Nora Brisbon echoed, “Understand that everybody is not bad… [to] think before they shoot. Too many people are losing their families — Black, White, all different races. This is a tragedy to us as a people.”
Brisbon added, “Rumain was the type of son that most people, believe it or not, wish they had. He could be a million miles away, and you call him and say, ‘Rumain, I need this. Can you help me with that?’ And in a few minutes: ‘I’m on my way.'”
Brisbon, who was on probation as a result of a 1998 burglary conviction, also had been booked for DUI in 2009 and October 2014, as well as convicted for possession of marijuana.
Nora Brisbon said, “Of course he did a few bad things here and there, but they’ve been taken care of. He was not just some raggedy thug out there on the street. He made a difference in everybody’s life that he touched.”
Tuesday night, according to police, the officer heard of a drug deal conducted by two men in a black Cadillac SUV, one of whom was Brisbon. The police report states that when the officer arrived, he ordered Brisbon to show his hands, but Brisbon hid them in his waistband instead. As Brisbon ran away, the officer drew his weapon and chased him. The officer caught Brisbon at the entrance to an apartment, and as he grabbed him, they fell into the apartment. Fearing that Brisbon had a gun in his pocket, the officer seized Brisbon’s hand, but when he lost his grip and thought Brisbon would grab the supposed gun, the officer fired twice. What Brisbon had in his hand was a pill bottle.
The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a civil rights advocate, led a rally of roughly 150 people on Thursday night at Phoenix Civic Space Park. He said it was to “begin an active campaign of direct action and civil disobedience over the police-brutality-related death of Rumain Brisbon.” Before the rally, Maupin said, “We didn’t make it a race issue,” the officer “made it a race issue when he racially profiled Rumain and then murdered him in his doorstep.”
The lawyer who represented Brisbon in one of his DUI cases, Marci Kratter, now represents the family regarding Brisbon’s death. Kratter wants the officer, whose name is still not being released by police, held accountable for Brisbon’s death but said she would wait to take action until the facts are brought to light. But Kratter told The Washington Post, “What happened here is a police officer murdered my client. And what the police say happened, it doesn’t make any sense at all. There’s something not right with it.”
Klinger said, “I don’t know what they’re going to do without their dad, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without him to raise my child. He took really good care of me, he checked on me every day. I don’t know what I’m going to tell my daughter when it’s time to tell her.”