To just about everyone who encountered him, it was apparent Brian Simmons was a man dealing with serious mental-health issues.
Simmons moved to Maricopa from Idaho Falls, Idaho, in January of 2021. While living in Idaho, he worked at Idaho National Laboratory, where he was exposed to weapons-grade plutonium and americium, radiation that likely led to his mental-health issues.
Simmons was shot and killed at his home in August during an interaction with Maricopa Police that began as a noise complaint and quickly escalated.
Following Simmons’s death, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation, taking the lead from the Maricopa Police Department because MPD officers fired shots during the incident. As part of the investigation, PSCO interviewed one of Simmons’ neighbors.
InMaricopa obtained the audio file of that interview through a public-records request. The neighbor’s name was redacted.
During the interview, the neighbor said he had a good relationship with Simmons but noticed certain peculiarities about his behavior.
“There seemed to be issues there,” the neighbor said. “I normally get up to walk the dog around 4:30 or 5 in the morning and he would already be up with the garage open yelling and screaming. Something wasn’t quite right in his head.”
During his first year in Maricopa, Simmons had one interaction with MPD, involving driving with a suspended license.
That changed in the final eight months of Simmons‘ life, when he had 20 interactions with MPD and others with Chandler officers.
The neighbor noticed a behavioral change in Simmons as time went on.
“It got progressively worse in the last six months,” the neighbor said.
The neighbor said that he and his wife tried to engage Simmons whenever possible, because they saw the potential for Simmons having a mental breakdown.
“He was awesome to me,” the neighbor said. “But I was always very proactive in reaching out to him, trying to make sure that I didn’t make this guy into an enemy.
“I never felt threatened by him.”
They would exchange pleasantries from time to time, but the man interviewed by PCSO said he tried to keep some distance.
“Sometimes the conversations were a little awkward, where he would want to show me something he was handcrafting for Elon Musk,” he said. “That was worrisome all along, but I never felt threatened by him. My wife never felt threatened.”
The feelings weren’t mutual throughout the neighborhood, however. Some residents told InMaricopa they didn’t appreciate Simmons‘ loud mannerisms and bizarre behavior.
“I know the neighborhood didn’t like him in general, with the cussing and yelling,” the neighbor said. “I learned at a certain point to tune him out. So, I was OK.”
The topic turned to whether Simmons was possibly dealing drugs out of his home, which the neighbor shot down immediately.
“I never felt like he was drug dealing or anything like that,” the neighbor told PCSO investigators. “He seemed so sporadic that I couldn’t see him doing anything effectively, running any kind of business or even holding any job.”
Interestingly, the previous week, the neighbor had noticed a U-Haul in front of Simmons’ house.
Simmons told the neighbor he was moving to either Las Vegas or Idaho because he was tired of all the things happening at his house and wanted to move away.
The neighbor told the PCSO interviewer of an unusable musket Simmons had, to which he was gluing shoe parts. Simmons told him it was a gift for Joe Rogan.
“I feel bad for the guy,” the neighbor said.
The neighbor also explained that Simmons had a car that he saw about once a month. He believed that Simmons would lose track of it from time to time, and there was evidence of that in Maricopa Police reports obtained by InMaricopa.
The neighbor mentioned an incident in which Simmons walked all the way to Chandler, a 20-mile trek.
The neighbor said Simmons frequently appeared to be having discussions with himself. He could never tell who Simmons was talking to, because Simmons had the propensity to shout into the air.
Simmons sometimes would play his music loudly at 3 in the morning. The neighbor said the next day Simmons would stop by with gift cards and apologize for the loud music and explain that he was just having a lot of difficulties getting to sleep at night.
The neighbor said Simmons would sometimes disappear from his house for four or five days at a time. The biggest concern, according to the neighbor, was that he would hear Simmons’ dog barking from inside his house.
“We’d worry about whether the dog was going four or five days without being fed,” the neighbor said.
During his time in Maricopa, Simmons’ family and the Maricopa Police Department tried to get Simmons help for his mental-health crisis. They were thwarted by various state laws and privacy regulations, setting up an unfortunate ending to an ill man’s life.
For additional stories on Brian Simmons, click the following links:
‘We were trying to get him some help’ – InMaricopa
Unpacking the Brian Simmons story – InMaricopa
Simmons’ family speaks out on death – InMaricopa
Maricopa police officers in Simmons shooting say their hand was forced – InMaricopa
BRIAN SIMMONS: A look at Idaho National Laboratory – InMaricopa
BRIAN SIMMONS: Understanding HIPAA – InMaricopa
BRIAN SIMMONS: A look at Title 36 – InMaricopa
BRIAN SIMMONS: Tips to managing mental-health care – InMaricopa