Family visits Tucson to find answers on OIS suspect's death

Family visits Tucson to find answers on OIS suspect's death

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - He stood just yards away from where his brother took his last breath.

It has been quite a journey for Leon Rucker and his relatives to get to Tucson from their home in Atlanta, Georgia - the former home of Frederick Douglas Wilburn Jr. before he moved to southern Arizona in 2014.

The purpose for their visit is clear.

"We made this trip not to tour. We made this trip to find answers," Rucker said.

Answers to questions of why his brother did what he's accused of doing and what will come of the investigation.

Wilburn Jr., 34, was shot and killed after he tried to run over two detectives on Thursday, Dec. 7, according to Raul Garcia, a public information officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS). One detective reportedly fired the several, fatal shots.

"I'm very surprised by that," Rucker said. "That's not my brother. I know my brother wouldn't have did anything like that."

Rucker wants to know more but is having a hard time cracking through the investigation.

"I don't know if it's because of the authority against authority. I don't know if the authority investigating authority is against us. That's how I feel because we're not getting any help," he said.

He is hoping to get some assistance from the one department - Arizona DPS - handling both the criminal and administrative investigation. The incident involves two of its detectives.

When asked why DPS is not handing over the case to a different, independent law enforcement agency to investigate the matter, Garcia said it's a common practice to not pass off the case.

"It is common for the AZDPS and other large law enforcement agencies to conduct the criminal and parallel administrative investigations of their own officer involved shootings as agencies have detectives specifically trained to investigate these incidents," he said in an emailed statement to Tucson News Now. "This is an industry standard with most large police agencies that have the capacity, experience, and training to conduct their own investigations."

Garcia explained that their administrative investigative team will gather and present the facts internally regarding policy and procedure.

But in the criminal investigation, the team will present facts to the, "appropriate prosecutorial agency for their independent review. The independent review is when criminal culpability will be determined," Garcia wrote. "Additionally, the Department will empanel a Critical Incident Review Board to review the actions of Department employees when conduct results in deadly force. The Department's Critical Incident Review Board is comprised of specific Department members along with members of the public."

By Rucker's account, his brother was an upstanding citizen until his death.

Wilburn Jr. is the father of a 4-month-old boy and a 2-month-old boy with his fiancé in Tucson. The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses and support for the children.

"We are trying to get justice and the proper funeral arrangement that he deserve. Any donation will help at his moment," the site said.

Even after his death, Wilburn Jr. is someone Rucker said he still talks to - in his prayers - with words of encouragement.

"I tell him it's going to be okay. I've got your back," he said. "He's always family. Family is number one. And I'm going to be strong for him because I want him to be strong to make it through his stage also. His family is going to be okay."

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