On Friday, August 26, the Salt Lake City Police Department released a body-cam film that showed officers apprehending an unarmed, intoxicated man who ultimately passed away. In Salt Lake City, a 911 caller reported that a man had entered a brewery in only his underwear, tried to steal beer, assaulted a customer at the entrance, and was now running about in the street and endangering both himself and oncoming traffic. Nykon Brandon, 35, passed away an hour after being held by police.
After the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) released the 911 tape and body camera footage of the deadly encounter on August 14, demonstrators questioned the officers on Saturday about how an unarmed person ended up dead and charged them with using “disproportionate force.” Black Lives Matter-Utah founder Lex Scott remarked, “Stealing a drink does not equal the death penalty.”
“I don’t give a damn if he robbed ten banks in one day. He didn’t merit passing away. He was entitled to appear in court. After cops apparently administered three shots of Narcan, a medication that instantly reverses opiate overdose, and used cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedures on him, he was reportedly declared dead about an hour later.
Brandon’s passing occurs at a time when there are still countless instances of police killings of unarmed persons in the United States, many of whom were experiencing a mental health crisis. Activists have asked for improvements, arguing that specific mental health crisis teams would be a better response option than armed police, who frequently aggravate situations.
According to a news release from the SLPD, Brandon is thought to have died from a “medical issue,” while the exact reason for his death is yet unknown. 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 before using force, no de-escalation attempts by the police are visible or audible in the footage from nine body-worn cameras.
The 911 caller allegedly added, according to a Daily Mail story “At Fisher Brewing, a man had entered, attacked a customer at the door, and was “running around mad.” extreme erratic He simply leaped into the road and out again.” The caller said, “Definitely mental health issues.” So, the caller said, “if you have mental health services, send them out.”
Instead, the bodycam video shows a cop exiting his patrol vehicle and telling Brandon to halt. Another cop shoves Brandon to the ground as the two officers attempt to restrain him as he pushes back, raises a fist, and looks to go for the officer’s holstered gun. As Brandon continues to push against the officers while on a gravel bed that separates the road from the sidewalk, one of the officers repeatedly yells, “Stop.”
Mendenhall announced the police reforms, which were sparked in part by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020. “De-escalation tactics are no longer suggested or preferred; they are mandatory prior to use force to effect an arrest unless it would be unreasonable to do so,” Mendenhall said. Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department, said of the incident on August 14: “As the body-worn camera video indicates, this is a situation that rapidly escalated.
Our officers had to act quickly to bring a volatile situation under control because of the chaos that existed. Before Brandon entered Fisher Brewing, South Salt Lake Police had taken him to a detox center after receiving a report of a guy appearing bewildered and afraid in a park just after 1 p.m. on August 14, according to KUTV.
He was taken to the institution after officers concluded he was intoxicated and issued a citation for public intoxication. But because it’s not a jail facility, patients are free to depart whenever they choose. At 3:22 PM, members of the Salt Lake City Police Department came across Brandon. A third officer shows up within a minute. Brandon can be seen on video grabbing his gun and holster.
Brandon is ultimately cuffed with his hands behind his back while lying belly down on the gravel. An officer says, “We want to assist you. “You need to quit arguing with us,” I said. After some time, Brandon comes to a complete stop. Brandon receives three “Can you hear me?” inquiries from a police officer who touches him on the shoulder while wearing gloves. Brandon doesn’t say anything. An officer orders, “Get him in recovery,” as the others turn Brandon onto his side.
“Come on man,” yells the police. At that point, all of the police-released videos from security cameras turn black. In a news release, Salt Lake City Police stated that at 3:27 pm, police started providing medical assistance. They began giving chest compressions and giving the first of several Narcan dosages a minute later. “ SLCPD receives word that Mr. Brandon passed away at 4:16 p.m. Unknown is the actual time of death.
A full investigation, according to the police department, is being carried out. Rae Duckworth, the operational chairwoman for Black Lives Matter chapters in Utah, is curious as to why the cops’ attempts to assist Brandon are not shown in the footage that has been made public. “We don’t even have evidence that they actually provided aid. According to Weisberg, the police spokeswoman, video of the resuscitation efforts was withheld out of respect for Brandon’s family, thus we don’t have proof that the Narcan was truly provided.