Police name officer who killed unarmed black man in Phoenix

By David Schwartz
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Demonstrators hold protest rally week after unarmed man was shot dead by police in Phoenix

Demonstrators cross the 7th avenue bridge in downtown Phoenix the week after an unarmed man was shot dead by police, in Phoenix, Arizona December 8, 2014. Police say Rumain Brisbon, 34, was killed on December 2 as he struggled with a policeman who suspected he was selling drugs and erroneously believed he felt the handle of a gun in the man's pocket. Brisbon was actually carrying a pill bottle, and an attorney for his mother said accounts from witnesses did not tally with the police version. REUTERS/Deanna Dent (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST)

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Phoenix police on Tuesday released the name of the 30-year-old white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man during a struggle last week, after protests by activists who demanded his identity be made public.

About 200 chanting demonstrators angered by the killing faced off with police in riot gear late on Monday in downtown Phoenix, the latest in a wave of demonstrations across the country over the killing of unarmed black men by police.

A spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department said Mark Rine, a seven-year veteran of the force, had been reassigned to "non-enforcement duty" pending the investigation into the Dec. 2 shooting of 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon.

"It has been seven days since the incident and we didn't want to hold off on releasing the name any longer," said the spokesman, Sergeant Trent Crump. "He's now had time to mitigate any threats he might receive."

Demonstrations have erupted across the United States in recent weeks after two grand juries opted not to indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

Police said Rine shot Brisbon after a struggle during which the officer believed he felt the handle of a gun in the man's pocket. It turned out to be a pill bottle.

An attorney for Brisbon's mother and his 9-year-old daughter has questioned the police account of the incident and called for an independent probe into what happened.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a local civil rights activist and protest leader, said the demonstrations would continue until the officer was held accountable.

"This is a very minor victory in a long campaign for justice for Rumain Brisbon and for justice against police brutality," said Maupin, adding that Rine should be removed from the police department.

Phoenix police said internal and criminal investigations had begun and that the results would be turned over to the Maricopa County attorney to decide on any charges.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)