Police video of fatal encounter shows lack of de-escalation

A caller to 911 in Salt Lake City said a man walked into a brewery in his underwear, tried to steal beer, ran around the street, and put himself and drivers in danger. The police tried to arrest the man. Nykon Brandon was soon dead.

After the Salt Lake City Police Department late Friday released body camera footage of the fatal Aug. 14 encounter and the recording of the 911 call, activists on Saturday questioned why an unarmed person died and accused police of using excessive force.

“Stealing a beer does not amount to the death penalty,” said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter-Utah. “I don’t care if this man robbed 10 banks in one day. He didn’t deserve to die. He deserves to be brought to justice.”

The death of 35-year-old Brandon comes as police killings of unarmed people remain uncountable across the United States, many of whom were suffering from a mental health crisis. Activists have called for reform, saying a better solution than armed police, which can often escalate situations, is for dedicated mental health crisis teams to respond.


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

The 911 caller said a man came to Fisher Brewing, attacked a person at the door and “ran around like crazy.” Very irregular. He just jumped into the street.”

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

Instead, bodycam footage shows a police officer getting out of his squad car and ordering Brandon to stop. When he refuses and raises a fist, another officer pushes Brandon to the ground and the two officers attempt to pin him. “Stop,” one of the officers says repeatedly as Brandon lies face down on a bed of gravel between the road and the sidewalk and continues to attack the officers.


No de-escalation attempts by police are visible or audible in footage from nine body-worn cameras, although an executive order signed by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall two years ago requires all Salt Lake City Police Department officers to use de-escalation techniques the use of violence.

“De-escalation tactics are no longer recommended or preferred – they are mandatory before using force to make an arrest, unless it would be inappropriate to do so. Officers will use effective communication techniques to achieve voluntary compliance,” Mendenhall said while announcing police reforms, which were prompted in part by the 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Before entering Fisher Brewing, Brandon had been taken to a detox facility by the South Salt Lake Police after they received a report of a man acting confused and frightened in a park just after 1 p.m. on August 14. KUTV reports.


Officers determined he was intoxicated, took him to the detox facility, and produced him for public intoxication. But the facility is not a detention center and patients are free to leave at will, KUTV reported.

Salt Lake City Police Department officers encountered Brandon at 3:22 p.m. In the videos, he cannot be heard during his fights with the officers, except for perhaps a few unclear words.

A minute later, a third officer arrives. Video shows Brandon reaching for an officer’s holster and gun. They eventually manage to tie Brandon’s hands behind his back as he lies belly down on the gravel.

“We want to help you,” says one official. “You have to stop fighting with us.”

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

“Get him well,” an officer orders, and the others roll Brandon onto his side.


“Come on, man,” says an officer. All police-released camera footage goes dark at this point.

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

“At 4:16 p.m., SLCPD is notified that Mr. Brandon has died. The exact time of death is unknown,” the press release said.

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

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

“We don’t even have evidence that they actually provided assistance. We have no proof that they actually administered Narcan,” Duckworth said. “So that’s probably the biggest red flag and takeaway I’ve seen.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/08/27/police-video-of-fatal-encounter-shows-lack-of-de-escalation/ Police video of fatal encounter shows lack of de-escalation

Sarah Y. Kim

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