Before a white Virginia sheriff’s deputy shot a Black man 10 times late Wednesday night, he told the man to drop his gun. Body-camera footage and the recording of the man’s initial call to 911, however, show he was never holding one. He had his phone in his hand, and he had told authorities so.
The Spotsylvania County sheriff’s deputy had dropped Isaiah Brown, 32, home earlier on Wednesday night after Brown’s car had broken down miles away.
But, moments later, Brown dialed 911 over a dispute with his brother that was apparently preventing him from getting back to his car. He described a heated argument in which he had asked his brother for a gun, but he notified the dispatcher that he did not have a weapon. His brother had refused his request.
Brown said, “I’m about to kill my brother.”
The dispatcher replied, “Don’t kill your brother.”
“Alright,” said Brown.
“Why would you say something like that?” asked the dispatcher.
“Somebody needs to come here real quick,” said Brown.
The same deputy who had dropped him home arrived back at the scene and found Brown standing on the road outside the home.
The recording of Brown’s 911 call captured the confrontation, indicating that Brown was walking down the road, on a house phone, at the time. “You need to hold your hands up,” the dispatcher tell him as a siren can be heard in the background.
The deputy is then captured in the 911 call and in body-cam footage shouting at Brown, “Show me your hands. Show me your hands, now. Show me your hands. Drop the gun. He’s got a gun to his head. Drop the gun now. Stop walking towards me. Stop walking towards me. Stop. Stop.” The deputy then shot Brown and continued yelling at him to put his hands up and “drop the gun.”
The officer, whose name has not been released, has been put on administrative leave, the Spotsylvania sheriff said. The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is reviewing the shooting.
Brown is now in intensive care being treated for 10 bullet wounds.
His family’s attorney said in a statement, “It is evident that the tragic shooting of Isaiah Brown was completely avoidable. Isaiah clearly told dispatch that he did not have a weapon more than 90 seconds before the deputy arrived. He told dispatch that he was walking away from the house and away from anyone else and was on the roadway by himself. Isaiah was on the phone with 911 at the time of the shooting and the officer mistook a cordless house phone for a gun.”
Brown’s brother, Tazmon, told NBC Washington that he thought Brown called the cops because he wanted a ride back to his car so it wouldn’t be towed.
“The officer just started shooting at him for no reason. I didn’t hear a warning shot. All I heard was ‘Hands up!’ one time. And all he had was his phone, so I know he put his hands up,” Tazmon said.
Protesters gathered Friday at the Spotsylvania sheriff’s office, shouting “No justice, no peace!” NBC reported.
The shooting and demonstrations come on the heels of a tense week in American policing. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder Wednesday for the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in May 2020. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. The same day as the verdict, a Columbus police officer shot and killed Black 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant while she lunged at a woman with a knife.
In the 24 hours after the Chauvin verdict, six people were killed by the police.