A citizen video showing a struggle between a Kansas City cop and an off-duty firefighter in which the firefighter flips the cop on his back and punches him repeatedly in the face before the cop pulls out a gun and kills him, was released this week after a grand jury declined to indict the officer.
Thanks to the video, we can see it was the right decision made by the grand jury, especially when we learn of what led up to the struggle, which was essentially that the firefighter, Anthony Bruno, had been drinking and had gotten into an argument with a cab driver over the fare. The cab driver threw the fare into his wife’s face, so Bruno punched him several times before storming off.
The cop, Donald Hubbard, who was in uniform working security at a hotel, witnessed this exchange and ran after the firefighter to arrest him, which is when the struggle ensued as well as when another man pulled out a camera and began video recording.
Not knowing the background, the man is being critical of the officer, which is why he is video recording. His female companion says she wants to intervene, but he tells her not to, which is a wise decision because that could have easily gotten her shot or at least charged with interfering.
At one point, the cop looks towards the witnesses and asks them for help. Seconds later, the firefighter flips him on his back and starts punching him in the face. And seconds after that, the cop pulls out a gun and fires twice, ending the struggle.
“Throughout my entire contact with the suspect, I gave him numerous verbal commands to give me his hands and to stop resisting,” Hubbard told detectives later. “In my attempts to place handcuffs on the suspect, he continued to resist and we eventually went to the ground.”
At one point, Hubbard put Bruno in a neck restraint and thought Bruno had given up. But then Bruno began resisting again, trying to stand while holding onto Hubbard.
“That’s when I noticed two people filming nearby,” Hubbard recounted. “I told these individuals that I was by myself and pleaded for them to call for help.”
Bruno told Hubbard he shouldn’t have hit him, Hubbard said.
“He then somehow flipped me over onto my back and the subject began punching me on the left side of my face and head,” Hubbard told detectives. “He was on top of me and I was in an extremely vulnerable position and I was exhausted from the struggle with the suspect.
“I don’t know how many times he struck me, but I started to black out and saw lines across my eyes. He continued to strike me and I started to lose consciousness and I believed the suspect was not going to stop hitting me until he killed me.
“I feared for my life and I drew my weapon, fired two shots center mass.”
We’ve heard the old “fear for my life” response so often, including many times when it is evident the officer was not in fear for his life, that we have become extremely skeptical of that justification.
But in this case, because of the video, most of us will probably agree that the cop had good reason to be in fear for his life.
However, several commenters, including many cops, are now commenting on a police website called Law Officer that the man with the camera is to blame for the shooting death of Anthony Bruno because he did not help the cop when asked for help. One of the commenters is even encouraging the others to message the videographer, apparently to accuse him of a crime.
But the real blame lies within the officers themselves for creating such an “us vs them” mentality against citizens where people are not only reluctant to get involved, but they are sure to record everything to ensure police do not twist the truth in their arrest reports.
Before the emergence of Youtube, many of us wouldn’t have hesitated to help the officer in a situation like this. But because we’ve seen countless videos of police abusing their power, stretching the truth and unjustifiably beating or killing citizens, we are now jaded, cynical and distrusting of police officers.
We don’t see them as the good guys anymore.
And the police have nobody to blame but themselves.