Could Brandon Tate-Brown Family File Criminal Charges if D.A. Won’t?

Protesters demonstrate outside City Hall in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The event in Philadelphia follows days of unrest in Baltimore amid Freddie Gray's police-custody death. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Protesters demonstrate outside City Hall in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The event in Philadelphia follows days of unrest in Baltimore amid Freddie Gray’s police-custody death. Photo | Matt Rourke, AP

So D.A. Seth Williams won’t bring criminal charges against the officers who shot Brandon Tate-Brown. That doesn’t means the chances for a criminal prosecution in the case have been completely eliminated.

Tate-Brown’s family could still try to press criminal charges. So could activists groups here.

Pennsylvania law allows private citizens to initiate criminal complaints, a feature of the law that is mostly used in relatively minor cases. But a similar law in Ohio is being used by activist groups to press criminal charges against the officers who shot the teenager Tamir Rice in Cleveland; Philadelphia activists say they’re watching that case, and are willing to follow suit in similar cases here.

“I do think there are situations — perhaps the situation of Brandon Tate-Brown — that we should use that law to exercise our rights for justice in Philadelphia,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER, the activist organization that has helped organize #BlackLivesMatter protests in the city in recent months. (He also plans to join Tamir Rice protests in Cleveland during an upcoming trip to the city.)

It might not be easy, however. Read more »

Another Sting Target Pleads Guilty

Michelle Brownlee

Michelle Brownlee has become the latest Philadelphia Democrat to plead guilty to corruption charges arising from the investigation abandoned by Attorney General Kathleen Kane and revived by Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams. Read more »

Here’s the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Brandon Tate-Brown’s Family

Tanya Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference on Thursday. Dickerson's son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December; DA Seth Williams announced earier in the day no charges would be filed in the death.

Tanya Brown-Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference in March. Dickerson’s son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December.

The family of Brandon Tate-Brown has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia — and is asking for a court to take control of the departmental reform efforts initiated by Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday with the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas seeks to be given class-action status, saying Tate-Brown’s December death after being pulled over by police is representative of broader training and oversight failures diagnosed by the Department of Justice in its March report on the department’s use-of-force practices.

“The deficiencies in PPD training found by the DOJ Report contributed to and were a substantial factor in the unlawful pullover, arrest, seizure, beating, and killing of Brandon Tate-Brown,” said the complaint filed by Brian Mildenberg, the attorney for Tate-Brown’s mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson. (See the full complaint below.)

A Philadelphia Police spokesman referred inquiries to the city solicitor’s office. A call to that office was not immediately returned. Read more »

Here’s Video of Philly DA Seth Williams Dirty Dancing

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Ten days ago, we shared video with you of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter showing off his dance moves at a GlaxoSmithKline event, where the company was announcing $5 million in grants to local non-profits. Well, new video has surfaced showing Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams dancing at a charity event, and suffice to say that Williams makes Nutter look like Pee-Wee Herman. Read more »

The Brief: Will Stephanie Singer, Milton Street Survive Ballot Challenge Season?

Signatures from former state Rep. Babette Joseph's nominating petitions.

Signatures from former state Rep. Babette Josephs’ nominating petitions.

A dozen candidates found out last week that legal challenges had been filed against them to try to kick them off the May 19th primary ballot.

So far, three hopefuls have lost their challenges, according to the City Commissioners’ office: Sheriff candidate Larry King (seriously, that’s his name), 9th Council District candidate Archye Leacock and City Commissioner candidate Dennis Lee.

The most fascinating ballot challenges that remain are against City Commissioner Stephanie Singer and mayoral candidate Milton Street.

Read more »

WATCH: Protest Over Tate-Brown Shooting Turns Violent at Community Meeting

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Thursday night’s town hall on policing at Lawncrest Recreation Center was scheduled weeks before D.A. Seth Williams announced that he would not bring charges in the killing of Brandon Tate-Brown. But that announcement today assured that emotions would be running high, and just as soon as the meeting opened with the introduction of Commissioner Charles Ramsey, protest broke out. Things escalated from there. The meeting eventually resumed; numerous protesters were reportedly arrested, none requiring medical attention. Read more »

Civil Suit Likely in Brandon Tate-Brown Death

Tanya Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference on Thursday. Dickerson's son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December; DA Seth Williams announced earier in the day no charges would be filed in the death.

Tanya Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference on Thursday. Dickerson’s son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December; DA Seth Williams announced earlier in the day that no charges would be filed in the death.

The Brandon Tate-Brown saga isn’t over. It might be just beginning.

Hours after District Attorney Seth Williams said he would not bring criminal charges against the two officers involved in the December shooting death of Brandon Tate-Brown, his mother and her attorney suggested that a civil suit is still likely — and that they have evidence which contradicts Williams’ basis for declining charges.

“I want transparency,” said Tanya Dickerson, Tate-Brown’s mother, at a press conference in front of City Hall. “We don’t see transparency.” Read more »

D.A.: No Charges in Tate-Brown Shooting

District Attorney Seth Williams, surrounded by community and clergy leaders, presents his case for not bringing charges in the Brandon Tate-Brown case.

District Attorney Seth Williams, surrounded by community and clergy leaders, presents his case for not bringing charges in the Brandon Tate-Brown case.

No charges will be brought against the officers who shot Brandon Tate-Brown, District Attorney Seth Williams said today at a midday press conference.

“In this case the facts show a tragedy. A terrible tragedy. But not a crime,” Williams said.  Read more »

A Lesson for Seth Williams in Kathleen Kane’s Abandoned Sting

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Let’s give Seth Williams a round of applause.

I’m not being facetious here. Williams’ decision to take Kathleen Kane’s “double-dog dare” last year and pursue charges against Philly Democrats caught on tape accepting cash and gifts has been a triumph on several counts: Politically, he’s come across as a stalwart prosecutor and made Kane look feckless by comparison. His decision has also been a small-but needed-victory over the everyday corruption most of us assume pervades this city’s politics.

But the experience offers a lesson Williams almost certainly doesn’t want to learn.  Read more »

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