Before he picked up a gun, he tried to pick up a pen.
More details are unfolding about the quiet hours before unhinged 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley allegedly wasted two NYPD cops in broad daylight before dropping the curtain on his life on a grimy subway platform in Brooklyn, firing one last headshot.
Days before the savagery that made Brinsley synonymous with evil, he was discussing his big plans for the future, The Daily Beast can report after speaking exclusively with friends of the accused cop killer.
“He was writing a script and we were gonna shoot it,” the close friend of Brinsley’s, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, told The Daily Beast in a phone interview. “It was going to be called ‘Until I Meet My Maker.’”
The plot was a string of anecdotes from the senseless shootings of friends that Brinsley knew.
“It was just experiences we’ve seen and all the things we did,” said the friend, who was interviewed by NYPD investigators on Monday. “He liked movies a lot and we seen a lot of things and a lot of people we been around—their stories are movies.”
Lives snatched and characters who deserved to be memorialized in a movie seemed to be the catalyst behind Brinsley’s big-screen dreams.
“Where we’ve been at, there’s been a lot of people that have been shot; like this past year, there’s been 10 people shot and four of them died.”
While a physical script didn’t exist, Brinsley was constantly taking notes, the friend said: “He was always jotting stuff on his phone all the time and he had a notebook that he’d write in all the time.”
This friend, a 38-year-old music studio head in Atlanta, claimed to be among the last people to spend significant time with Brinsley before he turned into an alleged police hitman. Like many of Brinsley’s Atlanta pals, the friend called Brinsley “Moses.”
The father of a baby daughter with whom he spent time in Atlanta earlier this year, Brinsley felt alone and indelibly down and out was still trying to prove himself worthy.
The screenwriting was one last card Brinsley was trying to play after every other trade he tried had turned to zeroes.
“Moses never found his niche,” the friend admitted. “He tried this and tried that—he was just searching and searching.”
Brinsley endured one failure after the next.
His clothing line that his friend described as “upscale and urban” was a dud.
And when BET Weekend came to Atlanta two months ago, Brinsley thought he could become a major party promoter.
“It didn’t pan out for him,” his friend recalled. “He rented out a place and only a few people came and he ended up losing all the money.”
That meant the talent that DJ Brinsely hired that night performed for a skeleton audience.
As a nascent sound engineer, Brinsley “tried the best he could.” But his friend admitted, “I never let him work with any of the talent that came in. He wasn’t good enough to be put with anyone professional.”
The friend said Brinsley’s passion for music was rooted deep because his father used to play.
“But his father never sat down with him and show him anything.”
At the music studio, Brinsley would arrive by train or bus to break into the music scene.
The downtown spot served as a training ground as Brinsley dabbled as a music engineer and sometimes a makeshift motel when he couldn’t get a lift home.
“I let him stay over once or twice when I didn’t feel like dropping him off at home.”
But mostly the studio was Brinsley’s chance to whip everybody at chess.
“He could beat most of the people at the studio.”
It was a year ago when Khadija Jackson ran into Brinsley. She remembered he was trying to make music.
Jackson—who used to airbrush paint a decade ago with Brinsley and described him as having a “natural gift for art”—noticed he’d gained weight when they reunited.
“He was fat,” she said. “That wasn’t the Moses I recognized.”
Brinsley was trying to produce tracks—hip-hop, mostly—and he apparently had a knack as a techie.
“He could build studios and he understood technology,” Jackson told The Daily Beast.
After his death, Jackson tried to speak up for her friend on a Facebook forum.
In the thread, Jackson tried to frontline Brinsley’s “charming smile” and his “beautiful brown eyes.”
Then she wrote: “Rest in peace#IB… he stood in what he believed in and died for a purpose he understood,” before referring to some Bible passages.
Maybe. Maybe not. While Brinsley said he was hunting cops in order to get revenge for police brutality victims Eric Garner and Michael Brown, his studio head friend said that Brinsley showed no interest in the political movement to curb the excesses of law enforcement.
“We all didn’t like the situation with Michael Brown and Eric Garner,” the friend said. “But Moses didn’t go to any rallies. Matter of fact, there was a rally down the street last week and he never went.”
On Thursday night, Brinsley and this friend were hanging together.
According to the friend, Brinsley rang his ex-girlfriend, an Air Force reservist named Shaneka Thompson, to no avail.
But when she called back, Brinsley was determined to tall her about his minted screenwriter status.
“He called her from my phone and then I talked to her,” said the friend, who had met the reservist when she came to Atlanta to visit Brinsley, back when they were an item.
According to the friend, Thompson ended the relationship because Brinsley couldn’t amount to much.
“He was back and forth to Maryland for a while but then she had enough,” the friend said. “Moses wasn’t holding his part of the bills and he didn’t have any money really ever. That’s why she broke it off.”
And when that happened several months back, the friend said, Brinsley was heartbroken.
“He told me, ‘I lost her. She ain’t messing with me no more.’”
When the friend spoke to Thompson on Thursday night, he said that Brinsley wanted him to talk up his new career plans to Thompson. Brinsley was banking on the screenplay to win back his ex.
“When he put me on the phone, I talked to her, and told her, ‘Moses was working on writing stuff,’” he recalled. “Moses felt like he was doing something finally; that this was going to be his thing and he wanted her to know it.”
His friend said that after the phone call, they parted. Brinsley never mentioned his next stop: Baltimore, where he gunned Thompson down before heading to Brooklyn on a mission to kill cops.
His last words were, “I’ll be back.”
But Brinsley never returned. And the next time his friend saw Moses, it was online; his bloody body was slapped on a stretcher.
While the friend said nothing was out of the ordinary that night (Brinsley wasn’t even acting depressed), he had expressed how alone he felt.
“He’d tell me ‘I don’t’ got nobody. Just me. I can’t go to my mother’s and ask for money and I can’t ask my father for anything. They don’t have anything either.’”
Ultimately, Brinsley may have wanted to be appreciated. The friend is asking himself if he could have been a better listener.
“Maybe I should have spent more time and paid more attention,” he said. “People try and talk to me all the time and I will keep the conversation really short and keep it moving. But maybe I could have changed the outcome by just listening more.”