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Phoenix police: Man who died in custody had meth in system; family disputes

Alexander Brown
Man dies in police custody 51st ave and McDowell 10-6-19
Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 13:54:32-04

PHOENIX — Police say a man who died at a Phoenix hospital after being taken into custody following a scuffle at a convenience store had methamphetamine in his system.

They say a review of the Oct. 6 incident shows only handcuffs were used to take 49-year-old Alexander Brown into custody and no improper action was taken by officers.

Brown’s family disputes both statements. I have a toxicology report that says something different,” said LaShan Pope-Herman, Brown’s younger sister. ”It said amphetamines that could be Sudafed, that could be Adderall.”

She also watched the body camera footage and believes police did not act fast enough when it was clear Brown was in distress and even asked for a doctor.

“They felt like he was just some impaired nobody, his life didn’t matter. They didn’t care enough to get him the help,” said Pope-Herman.

Police were called out to a fight inside a west Phoenix Circle K. Surveillance video, released by Phoenix police shows Brown incredibly paranoid, locking the front doors and even grabbing a random customer by the shirt.

Officers took Brown into custody, handcuffing him on the floor of the store and putting a knee on his back and head.

Brown was peacefully led out of the store and continued to say, “Help me, Jesus... please, in the name of Jesus.”

At one point, an officer says, “Jesus ain’t here right now. It’s just us.”

The Phoenix police officers are kind and cordial once outside, offering the distressed Brown water and telling him, “You’re alright... we got to make sure you’re safe.”

Brown’s wife actually works at the Circle K, and still does even after the incident.

Brown’s sister tells ABC15 that he had just picked up his wife at 5 a.m. and for some reason was back in the store less than an hour later.

Brown had apparently wrecked his car around the corner from the store and ran inside like someone was following him. Pope-Herman believes he may have been in danger.

Officers, meanwhile, repeatedly asked Brown about drug use.

“What drugs did you use today?” asked one officer. “None,” replies Brown.“Don’t lie to me,” responds the officer.

“What are you on man? Holy moly,” remarks another.

On officer body camera video, which was muted halfway through, Brown is nodding in and out while in the backseat of the squad car.

At one point, he clearly becomes unresponsive, and another officer shines a flashlight on the 49-year-old.

That moment is roughly 13 minutes after Brown is taken out of the store and 16 minutes after he told an officer, “I need a doctor."

Police say Brown became unresponsive while he was being evaluated by Phoenix Fire Department paramedics.

Brown was then taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Phoenix police say none of the officers involved are under investigation, and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is not looking into the incident.

The family says they are still considering filing a lawsuit, and plan to conduct their own autopsy and toxicology before the funeral.