Phoenix police use rubber bullet on teen mistaken for robber

January 17, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix man says he is still traumatized after being hit with a rubber bullet and tackled by police in a case of mistaken identity.

“It scares me to go back through my head when I close my eyes or even daydream to replay the same morning that got me to the hospital,” Dion Humphrey wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Humphrey, 19, remained hospitalized Friday for swelling around his heart, the man’s father told ABC15.com. William Humphrey said police mistook his son for an older half-brother, one of four suspects in the robbery and shooting of a 66-year-old man. That man is in critical condition.

Humphrey, 19, said he was dropping off his sisters at school on Jan. 10 when he was frightened by a loud noise from a vehicle and took off running. The noise was a flash grenade fired by officers who identified him as the suspect they were looking for.

Humphrey said that’s when officers used a rubber bullet and then tackled him to the ground. He was taken in for questioning and then later driven back home.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson confirmed the encounter to the Arizona Republic, saying officers used a flashbang because they thought they were dealing with an armed suspect who had previously been violent. Humphrey also didn’t comply with initial commands and ran, Thompson said.

Police did not say at what point they figured out Humphrey wasn’t a suspect.

The family remains outraged at how Humphrey, who is 90 pounds (41 kilograms), and suffers from sickle cell anemia, was treated. According to William Humphrey, Dion Humphrey and his half-brother do not look alike and have not lived in the same house for 10 years.

William Humphrey said he plans to file a complaint. He started the GoFundMe page to pay for a lawyer to look into filing a lawsuit.