Deputy who shot Black man appears to mistake phone for gun

Associated Press

Spotsylvania County, Va. – Body camera footage and 911 audio released late Friday appeared to show that a Virginia deputy mistook a cordless house phone held by a Black man for a gun before the deputy shot him repeatedly.

Family members said Isaiah Brown, 32, was in intensive care with 10 bullet wounds following the shooting outside a home in Spotsylvania County early Wednesday, WRC-TV reported.

“It is evident that the tragic shooting of Isaiah Brown was completely avoidable,” Brown’s attorney David Haynes said in a statement Friday.

Warning: Video includes graphic content

The body camera video shows the deputy arriving at the scene and yelling at Brown to show his hands. The deputy then yells, “drop the gun,” multiple times and appears to say over his radio, “he’s got a gun to his head.” The deputy then yells, “stop walking towards me, stop walking towards me” and “stop, stop” before firing at least seven shots.

This photo provided by Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office shows Spotsylvania County Sheriff Roger Harris explaining the Body camera footage and 911 audio released late Friday, April 23, 2021, that appeared to show that a Virginia deputy mistook a cordless house phone held by a Black man for a gun before the deputy shot him repeatedly.

The 911 audio shows Brown was on the phone with a dispatcher at the time the deputy arrived. The dispatcher is heard telling Brown to “hold your hands up” as the sirens draw near.

“The deputy in question made multiple, basic policing errors and violated established protocols. The deputy was situated nearly 50 feet from Isaiah, was never threatened and should not have discharged his weapon,” Haynes said.

The release of the recordings come after family members and the ACLU of Virginia demanded they be made public.

Sheriff Roger L. Harris said in the video that accompanied the release that a special prosecutor had been appointed to the case and advised that the recordings be released.

Harris said the deputy, who has not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave and Virginia State Police is handling the investigation.

Brown’s family told WRC-TV the same deputy had given Brown a ride home from a gas station after his car broke down. Tazmon Brown told the station that when they arrived, the deputy assured him that his brother was in no trouble, and had just needed a ride.

At some point later, 911 was called. Isaiah Brown is heard on the call saying his brother won’t let him into his mother’s room in the house, and he can’t get into his car. The dispatcher tells Brown that his car is broken down and has been towed.

Brown then says, “alright, give me the gun” to which his brother is heard in the background saying, “no.” The dispatcher asks what’s going on, and Brown replied “I’m about to kill my brother.”

The dispatcher says “don’t kill your brother,” and asks Brown multiple times if he’s armed. He says no.

Brown then told the dispatcher he was walking down the road. The dispatcher asks, “How are you walking down the road with the house phone?” Brown replied, “Because I can.”

The deputy arrived shortly after and can be heard yelling at Brown on the 911 audio. After the shots are fired, the deputy is heard rendering aid to Brown and instructing the brother to get a first aid kit out of his patrol vehicle.

It’s unclear whether the deputy knew Brown told the dispatcher he wasn’t armed or knew Brown was walking down the street with a cordless house phone. Haynes, Brown’s attorney, said the family is also requesting dispatch audio leading up to the shooting be released.