Salt Lake City police video of fatal encounter with unarmed man shows lack of de-escalation

A 911 caller in Salt Lake City says a man walked into a brewery in his underwear, tried to steal beer and ran down the street, posing a danger to himself and drivers . The police attempted to arrest the man. Soon, Nykon Brandon was dead.

After the Salt Lake City Police Department released body camera footage of the fatal Aug. 14 encounter and 911 recording on Friday, activists on Saturday questioned why an unarmed person was killed and blamed the police for using disproportionate force.

“Stealing a beer does not equate to the death penalty,” said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter-Utah. “I don’t care that this man robbed 10 banks in one day. He didn’t deserve to die. He deserved to go to court.

The death of Brandon, who was 35, comes as the United States still sees countless police killings of unarmed people, many of whom suffered from a mental health crisis. Activists have called for reforms, saying that rather than armed police which can often make situations worse, a better solution would be for special mental health crisis teams to intervene.

Brandon’s Facebook page says he had attended Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and worked for a company that sells appliances, plumbing and hardware. Many people who posted on his page expressed their shock and grief at his death.

The 911 caller said a man came to Fisher Brewing, attacked someone at the door and was “running around like crazy. Very erratic. He just jumped in and out of the road.

“Definitely mental health issues,” the caller said. “So if you have mental health resources, send them.”

Instead, body camera footage shows a police officer getting out of his patrol car and ordering Brandon to stop. When he resists and raises his fist and appears to reach for the officer’s gun in its holster, another officer pushes Brandon to the ground and the two officers attempt to pin him down. “Stop,” one of the officers says repeatedly as Brandon is on a bed of gravel between the road and the sidewalk and continues to push against the officers.

No attempt to de-escalate by police is visible or audible in footage from nine body-worn cameras, even though an executive order signed by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall two years ago requires all officers of the Salt Lake City Police Department to use climbing techniques before using force.

“De-escalation tactics are no longer suggested or preferred – they are mandatory before using force to effect an arrest, unless it is unreasonable to do so,” Mendenhall said in announcing the police reforms, which were prompted in part by the 2020 Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

Salt Lake City Police Department spokesman Brent Weisberg said of the Aug. 14 incident, “As the body-worn camera video shows, this is an unfolding situation. quickly unfolded. It was a chaotic situation and our officers had to make very quick decisions to get a very tense situation under control.

Before Brandon entered Fisher Brewing, he was taken by South Salt Lake police to a drug rehabilitation center after receiving a report of a confused and frightened man in a park just after 1 p.m. on August 14 , reported KUTV.

Officers determined he was intoxicated, took him to the facility, and cited him for public intoxication. But the facility is not a detention center and patients can leave as they please, KUTV reported.

Salt Lake City Police Department officers met Brandon at 3:22 p.m. In the videos, he was not heard speaking during his struggles with officers, except for possibly a few words that are not not clear.

A minute later, a third officer arrives. The video shows Brandon grabbing his holster and gun. They eventually manage to cuff Brandon’s hands behind his back as he lies on his gravel stomach.

“We want to help you,” said an officer. “You have to stop fighting with us.”

After a few seconds, Brandon stops moving. An officer taps Brandon on the shoulder with his gloved hand and asks “Can you hear me?” thrice. Brandon doesn’t answer.

“Get him to recovery,” one officer orders, and the others roll Brandon to the side.

“Come on man,” an officer said. All camera footage released by the police goes dark at this time.

Salt Lake City Police said in a news release that officers began performing medical treatment at 3:27 p.m. A minute later, they administered the first of several doses of Narcan and began performing compressions thoracic.

“At 4:16 p.m., the SLCPD is informed that Mr. Brandon has passed away. The exact time of death is unknown,” the press release read.

The police department said a full investigation was being conducted by an outside agency and the department’s own internal affairs unit would conduct a separate investigation.

Rae Duckworth, president of operations for the Utah chapters of Black Lives Matter, wants to know why the released footage doesn’t show the officers trying to help Brandon.

“We don’t even have proof that they actually administered aid. We have no evidence that they actually administered Narcan,” Duckworth said.

Weisberg, the police spokesman, said footage of the resuscitation efforts was withheld out of consideration for Brandon’s family.

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