The night began with Kansas City, Mo., firefighter Anthony Bruno celebrating at a wedding reception with his new wife.
It ended with Bruno pummeling a policeman's head into the pavement -- until the Kansas City officer, Donald Hubbard, fired two shots that killed Bruno on Dec. 1.
The ensuing investigation divided Kansas City, even after a Jackson County grand jury cleared Hubbard of wrongdoing this month. Did the officer provoke a drunken Bruno by kneeing him in the head during an arrest? Were the fatal gunshots a justifiable use of force against a violent suspect -- who also happened to be a fellow public servant?
Those divisions continued to play out Tuesday after investigators released their case files on Bruno's death, which included cellphone video of the two men's fatal struggle taken by bystanders. (The video is shown above. Warning: Strong content.)
The trouble began earlier in the evening, when Bruno, 26, and his wife, Stephanie, 29 -- dressed in wedding attire -- argued with a cab driver over a $6 fare.
Stephanie Bruno told investigators the cabbie threw money in her face and made a sexual slur, and then Anthony Bruno began punching the cabbie.
Hubbard, 42, who was wearing his police uniform but technically working off-duty as a security guard for the nearby Marriott hotel, then chased Bruno through the city's downtown.
“Throughout my entire contact with the suspect, I gave him numerous verbal commands to give me his hands and to stop resisting,” Hubbard told investigators later, according to documents obtained by the Kansas City Star. “In my attempts to place handcuffs on the suspect, he continued to resist and we eventually went to the ground.”
In the version of the cellphone video shown above, which was edited by the Star to silence some strong language, two tipsy-sounding observers are watching the officer try to arrest Bruno, who is lying on the ground.
Bruno appears to yank away his hands as Hubbard tries to cuff him. The officer appears to knee Bruno in the head, which is when Bruno wrestles Hubbard to the ground.
At one point, the officer calls something out to the observers, mentioning the word "help," before Bruno climbs over the officer, puts a hand on Hubbard's face, then begins punching the trapped officer's head into the ground.
"Hey, don't fight the cop, don't fight the cop!" one of the onlookers shouts, right before the camera's view slips away and two gunshots ring out.
“He was on top of me and I was in an extremely vulnerable position, and I was exhausted from the struggle with the suspect," Hubbard told investigators later, in the documents obtained by the Star. "I don’t know how many times he struck me, but I started to black out and saw lines across my eyes. He continued to strike me and I started to lose consciousness, and I believed the suspect was not going to stop hitting me until he killed me. I feared for my life and I drew my weapon, fired two shots center mass.”
Bruno was hit both times and pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Hubbard, a longtime department veteran, was also hospitalized and underwent facial reconstruction after the attack, KCTV-5 reported.
"The cop kneed him in the face that is what started the life or death struggle," one reader said in the comments section of the Star's story on the video.
Another said, "This officer's life was in danger. He took the necessary action to stop the threat who was inflicting a deadly assault upon him.... Those who judge and criticize let us hope you never have to confront a situation like this."
ALSO:Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times