A caller to 911 in Salt Lake City said a man came into a brewery in his underwear, tried to steal beer and was wandering the streets, posing a danger to himself and drivers. The police tried to arrest the man. Soon after, Nikon Brandon died.
After the Salt Lake City Police Department released body-camera footage and 911 recordings of the deadly Aug. 14 encounter on Friday, activists on Saturday were asking why an unarmed man was killed and accusing police of using disproportionate force.
“Stealing beer is not the same as a death sentence,” said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter-Utah. “I don’t care if this guy robs 10 banks in one day. He didn’t deserve to die. He deserves to go to court.”
The death of Brandon, who was 35, comes as the United States continues to see countless police killings of unarmed people, many of whom were suffering from mental health issues. Activists have called for reform, saying specialized mental health crisis teams would be a better solution than armed police who can often escalate situations.
Brandon’s Facebook page says he attended Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico and worked for a firm that sold appliances, plumbing and hardware. Many who posted on his page expressed grief and sorrow over his death.
The 911 caller said a man came into Fisher Brewing, attacked a man at the door and was “running around crazy. Very erratic. He just jumped in and out of the street.”
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“Definitely a mental health issue,” the caller said. “So if you have mental health resources, send them.”
Instead, bodycam footage shows a police officer getting out of his patrol car and ordering Brandon to stop. When he resists and puts up a fist and is seen reaching for the officer’s holstered pistol, another officer pushes Brandon to the ground and two officers try to take him down. Brandon is on a gravel bed between the road and sidewalk and continues to push against the officers as an officer repeatedly says “stop”.
No police de-escalation efforts are visible or audible on footage from the nine body-worn cameras, even though an executive order signed by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall two years ago required all Salt Lake City Police Department officers to stop using them. Escalation techniques before force.
“De-escalation techniques are no longer recommended 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 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020. by
Salt Lake City Police Department spokesman Brent Weisberg said of the Aug. 14 incident: “As seen in the body-worn camera video, this is a situation that unfolded quickly. It was a chaotic situation and our officers needed to make very quick decisions to bring a very tense situation under control.”
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Before going to Brandon Fisher Brewing, he was taken to a detox facility by South Salt Lake police after receiving a report of a man acting confused and scared in a park just after 1 a.m. Aug. 14, KUTV reported.
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 at will, KUTV reported.
Officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department confronted Brandon at 3:22 a.m. In the videos, he is not heard speaking during his struggle with the officers, possibly a few words that are slurred.
A minute later, a third officer arrives. The video shows Brandon holding his holster and gun. They finally manage to cuff Brandon’s hands behind his back as he lies on his stomach in the gravel.
“We want to help you,” an officer said. “You have to stop fighting us.”
After a few seconds, Brandon stopped moving. An officer taps Brandon on the shoulder with his gloved hand and asks “Can you hear me?” Three times. Brandon doesn’t respond.
“Bring him in for recovery,” one of the officers ordered and the others carried Brandon to his side.
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“Come on man,” an officer said. All camera footage released by police went dark at that point.
Salt Lake City police said in a press release that officers began rendering medical aid at 3:27 a.m. A minute later, they administered the first of multiple doses of Narcan and began performing chest compressions.
“At 4:16 p.m. SLCPD was notified that Mr. Brandon had passed away. The exact time of death is unknown,” the news release said.
The police department said a thorough investigation is being conducted by an outside agency and that the department’s own internal affairs unit will conduct a separate investigation.
Rae Duckworth, operating chairperson of Black Lives Matter’s Utah chapter, wants to know why the released footage doesn’t show officers trying to help Brandon.
“We don’t even have proof that they actually gave help. We don’t have evidence that they actually administered Narcan,” Duckworth said.
Police spokesman Weisberg said footage of the resuscitation attempt was not released out of consideration for Brandon’s family.
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