Most folx who live on the eastside know Mat, his low rider bike and bandana are as much a fixture in the neighborhood as any street sign.
Mat would stop by for food, conversation, to borrow some bike tools, and an occasional shower. He’s a calm yet streetwise person.
On Monday, April 8, 2019 at 4:00pm Flagstaff police officer Nick Rubey attempted to murder Mat.
In body camera footage released by the Flagstaff Police Department we see a disturbing confrontation that started similarly to how we witness most profiling here on the streets of Flagstaff. Officer Rubey initially appears to calmly question Mat then grabs him when he was trying to leave. Mat pulled back stating, “What are you doing asshole? Hey dude, you just started trying to attack me…what the hell are you doing?” The officer grabbed at Mat while simultaneously telling him he’s under arrest. Mat was forced to the ground but stood up and after being pepper sprayed took action to defend himself by pepper spraying the attacking officer. Officer Rubey imagined the pepper spray was a knife and shouted, “You drop that fucking knife right now.” Mat responded by shouting, “I don’t have a knife!” and sprayed the cop. Officer Rubey immediately then shot Mat in the neck.
Mat survived this attempt on his life. We plan to support him however we can.
Read our edited transcription of the attack below, but first let us provide some context.
Flagstaff police perpetuate extreme racial profiling targeting the Indigenous population. We’ve talked at great length with Mat and other unsheltered relatives about their experiences and worked with them to get the support they need when asked. We’ve discussed the reality of substance abuse and mental health issues and ways we can organize to not just improve, but strike at the root of colonial state violence. We’ve also provided know you rights workshops, informal cop-watching, and in some situations with aggressive law enforcers, assisted our relatives by de-escalating.
According to annual reports from the Flagstaff Police Department, the City of Flagstaff arrests an average of more than 3,000 Indigenous People every year yet only 7,000 Native people call Flagstaff their home. The majority of these arrests are comprised of unsheltered relatives. In 2006 The National Coalition for the Homeless named the City of Flagstaff the 10th “meanest” city in the U.S. due to policies targeting the “homeless” or unsheltered population.
According to a Washington Post database, 264 people have been shot and killed by police in the US in 2019 alone. Arizona police have shot and killed 11 people this year. Of those murders, 3 have been in Flagstaff. One of those shootings occurred outside a community metal health center. Monday’s shooting marks the 23rd officer-involved-shooting in Arizona this year, according to a count maintained by The Arizona Republic.
According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice “The racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans.”
In the face of extreme racial profiling and state violence, we know that any of our brothers and sisters could face this kind of terrorism. We respect Mat for standing his ground and defending himself in the face of this act of state aggression.
In 2016, Loreal Tsingine, a Diné woman, was shot 5 times by a white police officer in nearby Winslow, Arizona for allegedly shoplifting. Loreal was fierce and also did not back down when unjustly attacked. We honor her spirit in organizing towards lasting solutions to defend ourselves, neighbors, lands, and to resolve issues we face in more just and healthy ways. This means a world free from police & prisons.
Táala Hooghan Ad-hoc Committee Against State Violence
#justice4mat #nativejusticenow #acab
We’ve also provided some know your rights info below.
Edited transcription of the video:
Officer Nick Rubey turns his patrol car around in the middle of the road to stop and question Mat.
Mat responds to questions by saying he is fixing his bike ad expresses concern by stating, “Seems like you guys have been trying to stop me today or something.”
Cop: “Still staying at Taala Hooghan or somewhere else”?
The conversation continues about where he’s staying with the cop asking if Mat is, “…bouncing around from hotel to hotel.” Which Mat confirms.
Cop asks, “Where you planning on fixing your bike at?” The conversation then focuses on Mat’s bike and his safety.
The cop asks if he had a BB gun on him today and Mat responds by saying he took it from someone but that he didn’t have it and didn’t want to mess with it.
Cop asks if Mat has any weapons on him other than the visible knife on Mat’s bike.
Cop then states, “you’re usually pretty chill…I don’t want to treat people differently you know what I mean.”
Mat attempts to end the conversation by saying, “you have a good day sir,” and mentions that he has to work on his bike.
Cop states, “Unfortunately at this moment you are under arrest,” and aggressively grabs Mat.
Mat pulls pack and repeatedly asks, “What for?” Cop demands that Mat get on the ground because he has a warrant.
Mat responds by pulling back and saying, “What are you doing asshole? Hey dude, you just started trying to attack me…what the hell are you doing?”
After being thrown to the ground Mat stands up and pulls away as the cop holds his arm. Cop repeatedly demands that Mat gets on the ground.
Mat repeatedly asks, “What are you doing?” then loudly states, “Come on fucker. Get off me man. you just started attacking me homie. Don’t do that shit. Don’t attack me dude, I’ll get on the ground.” The cop is still holding Mat’s left arm at this point.
Cop pulls out pepper spray, “You’re going to get sprayed if you don’t get on the ground right now. Do you under stand me?”
As Mat states, “You attacked me dude.” The cop pepper sprays him in the face. Mat asks, “What are you doing?” Mat pulls pepper spray from his pocket and is holding it in his free right hand.
The cop sees the pepper spray and thinks it’s a knife. The cop has already drawn his gun. Cop shouts, “You drop that fucking knife right now.” Mat says, “I don’t have a knife.” and pepper sprays the cop. The cop immediately shoots Mat in the neck.
Mat falls to the sidewalk crying, “…you killed me, you hit me man. You hit me in the head. Oh, help me. Why did you hit me in the head fucker?
…i’m tingling all over. Please stop. He shot me in the back of the head.”
The cop forces Mat to roll over and tells him to “stop.”
Mat continues to cry, “…over what dude, over nothing huh? You’re fucking assholes. Leave me alone dude.”
Cops immediately administer first aid then medics arrive.
The video ends with Mat stating, “I don’t want you touching me at all anymore.”
Video of the attempted murder posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iznl4vjeUhs
Corporate news coverage here: https://azdailysun.com/news/fpd-flagstaff-man-in-officer-involved-shooting-hospitalized-in-police/article_b0cc9683-000c-5e60-8f47-639e79e57e70.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-2
Know your rights (including de-escalation tips): https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/what-do-if-youre-stopped-police-immigration-agents-or-fbi
Support unsheltered relatives: http://www.taalahooghan.org/2019/02/support-unsheltered-relatives-in-kinlani-flagstaff/