It has come to the attention of the Flagstaff Police Department that the public may have concerns about an incident where a member of the public sustained an injury during contact with our police officers. In an effort to be transparent, we are posting the police reports, 911 calls, and body camera videos of the encounter for the public to view on our transparency website.
Review of this incident has been completed through our routine use of force review process, as required by our Response to Resistance Policy, to determine if the force used was objectively reasonable under the law and our policies. It has been determined that the injury to the subject occurred when he resisted a lawful detention by the officers, was intoxicated, and fell to the ground. At no time did the officers punch or strike the subject. The attempt to detain the subject and the force used by the officers in placing the subject in handcuffs did not violate the law or Flagstaff Police Department Policy.
On February 2, 2021, Flagstaff Police Officers were called to the Flagstaff Mall for a report of an assault and theft on a mall employee. Officers were provided the description of the suspect involved in the assault as a native American male wearing a blue sweater and carrying a camo-colored backpack. Officers received information that the suspect was seen heading towards Safeway. Officer Rubey observed a man who matched the description of the suspect near the Discount Tire Store and approached to talk to him. Because he matched the description of the person who had reportedly committed an assault and theft, Officer Rubey had the necessary reasonable suspicion to legally stop and detain him to investigate whether he was the person involved in the crime.
Upon contacting the subject Officer Rubey had difficulty getting information from the individual due to his level of intoxication. Officer Davids arrived to assist but left to contact the victim to request she come to the Discount Tire to determine if the man they contacted was the person who assaulted her. The man told Officer Rubey his name was Marvin James. Officer Rubey asked that Mr. James sit down on the ground due to his level of intoxication and concern that he would fall over. Mr. James did not comply with this request indicating he had a sore leg.
Due to concerns for his safety, Officer Rubey asked Mr. James to keep his hands out of his pockets and he initially complied but then placed his hands back in his pockets again. Officer Rubey then asked if he could pat him down for weapons, Mr. James said yes and put his arms up but then did not stand still when Officer Rubey attempted to pat him down. Officer Rubey asked for Officer Davids to return as Mr. James was becoming uncooperative and combative by pushing up on Officer Rubey, getting in his personal space, and indicating he wanted to fight.
Mr. James asked what he did, and Officer Rubey explained he matched the description of a person who was involved in something at the Mall and that he needed to see if he was involved or not. Mr. James asked to go to the shelter and Officer Rubey stated if he is not involved in this that they will get him back to the shelter. When Officer Davids returned, Officer Rubey told Mr. James he was being detained and that he was not free to leave. The Officers then each took hold of Mr. James’ arms telling him he needed to put his arms behind his back. The Officers attempted to place Mr. James in handcuffs, to ensure their and Mr. James’ safety, while they conducted their investigation.
Mr. James resisted the Officers’ lawful authority to detain him by pulling away from the officers and pushing into Officer Davids. Officer Davids pushed back on Mr. James creating space while holding onto his arm and attempting to gain control of him. Mr. James also stepped back as well then suddenly pitched forward breaking partially free from the officers and striking the ground with his face causing an injury that began to bleed profusely. The Officers attempted to get Mr. James’ hands behind his back as he continued to resist their efforts. During this time Mr. James swung his body and right hand up knocking off Officer Davids’ Body camera and disabling it for a time. The Officers were able to gain control of one of Mr. James’s arms while the other was underneath his body. The Officers coordinated their efforts and were able to bring Mr. James’ hands behind his back and place him in handcuffs using minimal force.
The Officers requested medics be called to the scene to assist Mr. James. Mr. James continued to yell at the Officers and resist his detention and was held on his side until medics arrived. Cpl. Levya arrived on scene to assist the Officers and due to Mr. James bleeding and having spat at the Officers at one point, a spit mask was placed on him to prevent further blood from getting on the Officers and medics. The victim of the assault and theft was brought to the scene and identified Mr. James as the man who had assaulted her and thanked the Officers for responding to help and finding the man who had assaulted her.
Mr. James was combative with the Officers and medics who were attempting to provide treatment to him by kicking his feet at them. Mr. James was strapped to a gurney and transported to the hospital for treatment. After receiving medical treatment, Mr. James was booked into the Coconino County Detention Facility for Assault, Theft, Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest.
The Flagstaff Police Department’s Response to Resistance policy sets forth when officers must report a use of force incident for review. When an incident is reported by an officer, the report is reviewed by the Officer’s Sergeant, assigned Lieutenant; and is then forwarded on to the Deputy Chief of Operations. The Deputy Chief of Operations, the Department’s Legal Advisor, and the Professional Standards Sergeant also review the report and related body camera footage to ensure the force reported and the response to resistance was objectively reasonable; when the standards of policy, the Fourth Amendment, and the U.S. Supreme Court Case Graham v. Conner tenets are applied. Police Chief Dan Musselman is committed to proper policing and transparency; and personally, reviewed this incident to determine if the officer’s actions were within our policies and applicable law.
If you wish to view the Flagstaff Police Department's Policy 300: Response to Resistance, please click here.
If you wish to listen to the 911 Audio files select from below:
P2101468: 911 Call (1 of 2)
P2101468: 911 Call (2 of 2)
To review the completed police reports associated with this case, please click here.