Man died after Salt Lake City police nabbed him in struggle, video shows


Nykon Brandon was running across the street in socks and underwear when Salt Lake City police officers confronted him, threw him to the ground and attempted to restrain him.

Brandon struggled with several officers for about five minutes until his labored breathing seemed to stop, according to video of the Aug. 14 incident. An officer tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Can you hear me? » video shows.

“Is he alive?” another officer can be heard asking in body camera footage.

Police provided Brandon with medical aid, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department, but less than an hour later the 35-year-old was pronounced dead.

On Friday, the Salt Lake City Police Department was released body camera footage of the fatal Aug. 14 incident, announcing that its internal affairs division and an outside agency, which it did not name, are investigating. The department did not immediately respond to questions from the Post on Monday morning.

A department spokesperson told the Associated Press the situation “unfolded quickly”.

“It was a chaotic situation and our officers had to make very quick decisions to bring a very tense situation under control,” the spokesperson added.

Brandon seems to have been disarmed. Videos released by the department do not show Brandon holding a weapon. The department said no weapons were recovered from the scene. However, officials noted that as the encounter began, Brandon appeared to grab an officer’s belt. Footage shows him placing his hand near the officer’s gun before another knocks him to the ground.

A 911 caller noted that Brandon appeared to be a danger to himself and possibly others. The caller requested that “mental health resources” respond.

“We are committed to carefully reviewing the findings of the investigation into this case,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement. “As a forward-thinking service, we will use these results to evaluate our policies, training and procedures to continue to ensure we are making our city safer.”

Brandon’s death comes as police departments across the country grapple with how to deal with people struggling with possible mental health crises. While The Washington Post does not track the number of non-police shooting deaths nationwide, 21% of the more than 7,680 fatal police shootings since 2015 involved someone with mental illness, according to Post tracking. .

In recent years, departments have implemented de-escalation and training policies to reduce instances in which police use physical or deadly force. Such a policy was appointed in August 2020 by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall (D). This forces officers to use de-escalation techniques like establishing a rapport with a person and engaging in techniques that result in “voluntary compliance.”

About two years after those reforms, police were called to respond to the Fisher Brewing Company where a man dressed only in underwear tried to steal beer before running down the street, the caller said. They added that the man was ‘certainly a danger to himself’ and had ‘more or less’ attacked someone at the entrance to the brewery.

Minutes later, a police officer found a man later identified as Brandon running across the street, the department said. The officer said “stop”, approached Brandon and immediately attempted to grab him, as seen in the officer’s body camera footage.

Brandon then appeared to grab the officer’s belt and pistol, according to body camera footage from another officer who arrived on the scene seconds later. This officer walked over and pushed Brandon to the ground. Both officers attempted to subdue the man.

“I’m going to taser you,” one of the officers said, according to the footage. “Do you want to get Tased?”

After a third officer arrived and joined in the effort to restrain Brandon, the man appeared to get his hands on an officer’s firearm, prompting one to announce, “He has one hand on your gun.” More officers arrived as the struggle continued, and the officers eventually forced Brandon’s hands behind his back and handcuffed him.

About four minutes into the encounter, four officers held Brandon face down as he moaned and breathed heavily, the footage showed. Almost five minutes into the encounter, an officer said, “We can seat you if you stop.”

Brandon didn’t respond and continued to breathe deeply. After moaning a few more times, he seemed to lose consciousness. The body camera videos end as the police begin to roll him onto his back.

The department said in a statement that officers provided assistance to Brandon, including giving him multiple doses of Narcan, a drug to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Brandon was taken to hospital and pronounced dead less than an hour after the encounter began, according to the department.

It’s unclear if Brandon had drugs in his system. The city medical examiner did not publicly share the results of his autopsy, and the office did not immediately respond to a Post Monday morning request for comment.

Hours before the violent encounter in Salt Lake City, police in neighboring South Salt Lake found Brandon inebriated in a park and dropped him off at a rehab facility about three blocks from the brewery where he 911 call was made. KUTV reported.

Local activists say nothing Brandon did justified his death.

“Stealing a beer does not equal the death penalty”, Lex Scott, the founder of Black Lives Matter-Utah, told the Associated Press. “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.

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