PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) – A young Phoenix man says he is still traumatized after being hit with a rubber bullet and tackled by police in a case of mistaken identity.
The Phoenix Police Department said it took Dion Humphrey, 19, into custody in connection with an assault on a 66-year-old man earlier this month. The suspect for whom police were looking is Humphrey’s 20-year-old half-brother, Khalil Thornton. “The two brothers are about 10 months apart in age and are very similar in appearance,” Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department said Friday in a statement about the mistaken identity incident. “Dion … told investigators that people often mistake him and his brother for twins.” But Humphrey's family attorney says he was referring to his younger brother, not to Thornton.
Thompson also said that the brothers share a room at the Phoenix home where Humphrey was shot with a “baton round” and taken into custody. But, again, Humphrey's family attorney says Humphrey was referring to his younger brother when talking about sharing a room.
Police say they used a flash grenade and rubber bullet because they thought they were dealing with an armed suspect. According to Thompson, Humphrey was wearing a beanie that concealed his hair and “did not comply with the commands of the officers attempting to take him into custody … ” He was shot with a rubber bullet when he tried to run, police said.
"Today, Phoenix police released a flurry of lies about Dion and the unjustified assault they committed against him last week. Dion is a sickly child with delayed physical and mental development, the result of his struggle with Sickle Cell," said Rev. Jarrett Maupin, Humphrey's family spokesman.
Humphrey wrote on a GoFundMe page started by his father that he gets scared every time he replays the incident in his head. His family reportedly plans to sue on allegations of police brutality.
“Clearly, Dion’s civil rights were violated and we will do everything in our power to secure justice for him and to hold the Phoenix Police Department accountable for their violations of law and policies and procedures. This would never have happened in the White community and the police chief should apologize for the pain and anguish her officers have caused Dion and family. We demand an apology from the chief and the mayor for the misconduct of their employees and for the permanent damage done to Dion and those who love him. Shame on the city,” Maupin said.
Police are still looking for Thornton and they are asking for the public’s help. If you know where he is, please call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151 or Silent Witness at either 480-WITNESS (948-6377) or 1-800-343-TIPS (8477). Spanish speakers may call 480-TESTIGO (837-8446). (Click or tap phone number to call from this story on your mobile device.)
Officers arrested two 15-year-olds in connection with Jan. 9 assault shortly after it happened. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office said it is charging both Dwaun Chatman and Jarell Zink as adults. They're facing one count each of attempted murder in the second degree plus weapons charges. A judge set a cash-only bond of $50,000 each and mandated electronic monitoring and house arrest should they post that.
Police say that Chatman, Zink, Thornton and another man approached the victim in his car in the area of Seventh and Southern avenues and tried to rob him. They fired into the vehicle, police said, wounding the man. He was in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital.